Independent TD Mattie McGrath has said he cautiously welcomes the announcement by the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten that he has secured Government approval to immediately provide €30million of State funding to protect the future of the post office network and the continuation of a 5 day week postal delivery service to every address in the country.
Deputy McGrath was speaking after Minister Naughten also indicated that the funding will be subject to stringent conditions and Key Performance Indicators, the delivery of which will be monitored on a monthly basis:
“This is a welcome but long overdue and partial realisation of commitments that I and my colleagues in the Rural independent Group achieved Dáil approval for in November of 2016.
We achieved majority support for our Motion in 2016 that called on the government to keep the commitments it made regarding the Post Office Network and which were outlined in the Programme for a Partnership Government;
In 2016 we also called for an action plan for the post office network to be drawn up within three months. While it has taken the Minister and this government more than treble that time to act, I welcome the fact that he has made a significant first step in the right direction.
I also want to acknowledge the commitment given to further explore the possibility of linking the community banking model to the work of An Post.
I have been calling for the implementation of a new community banking service operated by An Post and which could be based on either the New Zealand Kiwibank model or the German Sparkassen model for some years now.
Further clarification will have to be sought about what exactly the Minister means by linking the support to ‘stringent conditions.’
If that just turns out to be a way of justifying mass closures of post offices then it will utterly unacceptable,” concluded Deputy McGrath.