Deputy Noel Coonan has been given a slap on the wrists by fellow Government colleague Junior Minister Alan kelly over comments he made on threats to the post office network.
Last week, Deputy Coonan called on An Post to bid for a payment contract with the Department of Social Welfare, but this week, Deputy Kelly said: “I am happy to clarify the misplaced concerns of my Government colleague. My fellow deputy incorrectly called on An Post to bid for a payments contract with the Department of Social Protection. Minister Joan Burton signed such a contract with An Post last December.”
Deputy Kelly said the contract was worth €50m to An Post and will see them processing €9.5bn worth of cash payments. The contract is for a minimum of two years but could be a maximum of six years and is substantial in terms of reach, impact and value.
“Unfortunately, incorrect speculation around the closure of post offices is causing severe stress for local communities and older citizens. The Government has no plans to close post offices and they are well positioned to be the provider of choice for many Government services. In fact, during the term of this Government less than 17 post offices closed and this was generally done with agreement, but during the years 2006-2010 under a Fianna Fail led Government, almost 200 post offices closed,” said the Junior Minister.
He said the Government and Minister Rabbitte were committed to the future of post offices.
“Last week, the Fine Gael press office sent out a templated press release on post offices asking Fine Gael deputies to replicate it and send it out to local papers. This is what appeared in local papers last week from Deputy Coonan. Fine Gael shouldn’t have done this. It was simply inappropriate and inaccurate to say the least and I have written to them on the matter,” said Deputy Kelly.