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first_imgCommunities across County Donegal are faced with the closure of half the county’s post offices within eighteen months, according to representatives of the Irish Postmasters Union this week.And as the crisis deepens, the postmasters were called to an urgent union meeting in Sligo at the weekend to hear a detailed analysis of the problems now facing the service. And the picture that has emerged is one of the bleakest ever scenarios for the future of Donegal’s seventy post offices.In fact, one postmaster told the Tirconail Tribune there is the very real possibility that An Post will close as much as 75% of its network in this county.Donegal has in the region of seventy post offices in the network, says Brian Cannon of Leitermacaward and that has fallen from one hundred and ten in recent years.He predicts that unless the Government takes immediate action as the main stake holder in the service, rural offices are about to disappear forever. As the Inishowen, Rosguill and Fanad Peninsulas into Dunfanaghy and Gweedore are faced with the closure of their remaining post offices, a public petition for the retention of the offices has begun this week and the community will travel to Dublin on February 26th as part of a nationwide protest outside the Dail.Back in the day the network in the Fanad Peninsula has seen office closures at Ballynashannagh: Tamney: Ballyheerin: Kindrum: Doaghbeg and Portsalon and only three offices remain…for the moment.This week the community has awoken to the realisation that all remaining five offices in Fanad and Rossguill are scheduled for closure, says the Union.There are deep concerns about the future of every single rural post office in Donegal, said Brian Cannon, postmaster at Leitermacaward.He says all they are getting is lip service from our politicians until the local elections are over: and then we will see the threats emerge into closures in the next couple of years.It has emerged that concerned postmasters have met this week withDeputy Joe McHugh at Milford to seek his party’s assistance in keeping rural post offices open. However we understand that the meetingachieved nothing by way of reassuring the postmaster that there is going to be any change of policy.In fact, said a number of postmasters the current policy of An Post to close post offices is Government policy and it is not going to be changed.The Irish Postmasters Union told members last weekend that the future of post offices is under the most serious threat in recent years. And the threat is so serious that unless and urgent action plan is put in place immediately most of the country’s network of 1150 branches will be shut down.The Union has pointed to the loss of revenue as a consequence of government failure to honour their commitment as laid down in the programme for Government to retain the network. The commitment says the Union included plans to increase footfall at these offices but the opposite has happened.An Post has completed the installation of post boxes outside of offices amid complaints that this decision has reduced drastically the numbers of people using the network to purchase stamps and other services that are available in the post office.The Postmasters Union points to the new departure by An Post to create a different services network outside of the company. This, they say includes services at Tesco stores, Supervalu and Green Apple filling stations.This service is called ‘Post & Pay’ and is having a serious impact on revenue in post offices. It has also emerged that the Social Welfare Contract which is An Post’s big earner could disappear within two year, says the postmasters.This contract believed to worth around €60 million to An Post only sees €20million going into the actual network and now the Dept of Social Welfare is about to seek a reduction in the cost of this contract.At the same time many in receipt of social welfare are using the banks since An Post has not allowed many of it’s smaller offices to process the banking arrangements.A spokeswoman for the Union told the Tribune: “Following the awarding of the welfare contract, An Post has tabled a proposal to reduce the rate paid for unemployment. This reduction, amounting to €4.6 million could result in the loss of up to 10% of their postmasters income.In those circumstances it would not be any longer viable to run the service.”It is also said that An Post may attempt to impose a new contract system on the postmasters that may do away with benefits they currently enjoy and which are factored into their income.And it is also believed the company is about to introduce a new model of remuneration that will reduce further the income of the postmasters.An Post is the biggest retail service network in the country with1,150 post offices and 170 postal agencies — most of which are operated by independent contractors who are paid on a transaction basis.Despite the closures, An Post has claimed Ireland still has one of the most extensive postal networks anywhere in Europe with 3.5 post offices for every 10,000 people. They are claiming that such a ratio ranked Ireland 3rd out of 31 countries in Europe.However it appears that regular mail now only accounts for 17% of An Post’s revenue. The single biggest income source is payment from the Department of Social Protection for the distribution of social welfare, which accounts for 35% of the company’s revenue, followed by the State’s savings products (30%).The major demonstration at the Dail is on February 26th with a number of coaches from Donegal now being organised.The Postmasters Union has secured an agreement with Deputies Seamus Healy and John Halligan to put down a private member’s motion in the Dail for the evenings of Feb, 25th and 26th. The motion will be supported by Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein but not by any government deputies.In the meantime, Cllr. Ian McGarvey, Mayor of Donegal is to travel with the Donegal group to the Dail to engage in an intense lobbying effort to save the post office network in Donegal.He told the Tribune that if the post offices are allowed to close it is yet another nail in the coffin for rural communities who’ve already seen most of their local services disappear.UP TO 75% OF DONEGAL POST OFFICES NOW FACE CLOSURE – UNION was last modified: February 13th, 2014 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:An Postdonegallast_img