Rural post offices in danger if welfare goes

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THE future of post offices in mid-Louth could come under a new threat if the social welfare contract with An Post is not renewed.

THE future of post offices in mid-Louth could come under a new threat if the social welfare contract with An Post is not renewed.

“Ninety per cent of our business comes from that source,” said Ardee Postmaster and town councillor Michael Farrelly.

“The contract will be put up for tender at the end of the month and anybody from any EU state can bid for it.

“That’s the EU law. Anybody can apply.

“If An Post losses that then all smaller post offices will close down.

“We are self-employed. And we pay rates. And we provide a community service.

“But we need this business to survive.”

And Cllr Farrelly is not very impressed with a report from an all-party Oireachtas committee on the future of post offices.

In order to make the post offices more sustainable, the report has recommended a plan due to be launched in the UK where the Royal Mail is planning to link up with ten British police forces to provide a common service.

This would be a pilot scheme whereby a police officer would work from a post office gathering information on issues such as petty crime and lost property.

The Oireachtas committee wants the government here to consider using the post office for similar purposes and also local government transactions such as property tax, business rates, motor-tax renewals.

“I can’t see post offices becoming garda stations,” said Cllr Farrelly.