Independent TD Mattie McGrath has said the admission by Government that it has pursued a fragmented policy approach in relation to rural Post Offices has been a hard won concession from its previous spin on the matter. Deputy McGrath made his comments after his Dáil Topical Issue debate where he successfully challenged Minister of State Joe McHugh, over the policy disparity that is undermining the viability of the rural post office network:
“While I welcome the fact that at long last we have gotten an admission in relation to the real agenda of the Government’s pursuit of rural post offices, it has only come after indisputable evidence was produced.
I was able to clearly reference a document that was sent to every Social Welfare recipient, which encourages the transfer and collection of payments from banks via electronic means.
This is completely at variance with the Department of Communications stated strategy; that it will aim to continue supporting the viability of the network.
The document from the Department of Social Welfare on the other hand demonstrates that it is actively pursuing an opposing and contradictory strategy, namely to have well over 90% of all its payments made by electronic transfer by the end of 2015.
This would signal the utter demise of the rural post office to the exclusive benefit of the banks.
While it was refreshing to hear such candour from a Government Minister in terms of how incoherent its policy has become, it was also disheartening to realise that there is effectively no over-arching belief at the heart of Government in the social and commercial benefits that rural post offices represent,” concluded Deputy McGrath.