Monday, 26 April 2021
Post Office Network: Motion
On behalf of Sinn Féin, I welcome the motion. We are all in agreement about the crucial role the post offices provide in our local communities. It is not just rural communities; they are a vital service in urban communities as well.
That said, the network has suffered from years of neglect by successive Governments with hundreds of closures and the loss of vital outlets right across the country. There are only so many cuts that the system can take. The postal service has been blighted by closures and hobbled by cutbacks. When an emergence like the pandemic hits, the staff are placed under a massive strain. We owe our postal workers a debt of gratitude for the way they rose to the challenge of Covid-19.
Last year, the IPU commissioned a report that recommended a PSO levy of €17 million per annum to be introduced to secure the future of the network and allow post offices to continue to provide excellent services, which are particularly important in rural Ireland. Sinn Féin supported this call. In fact, we have been advocating for a PSO to secure the future of the network for more than a decade now.
As far back as 2011, Sinn Féin highlighted that a PSO arrangement would be needed to save those post offices at risk of closure. Unfortunately, since then, successive Governments have done little to protect the network, allowing its further decline with hundreds of closures impacting rural Ireland the most.
During a Dáil debate on a Sinn Féin motion relating to post offices in 2018, Fianna Fáil called for a PSO to be introduced. I welcome that Senator Dooley has reconfirmed the commitment and support for such a levy. The support for the PSO is conspicuously absent from this motion, however. I am sure, therefore, it was just an oversight on the Senator's part. We are all very busy. I have done him a favour and included it as an amendment.