Rural Independent Group TD’s Mattie McGrath and Michael Collins have accused the Minister for Communications, Denis Naughten, of having completely bought into the rhetoric of blaming rural communities and rural Post Masters and Post Mistresses for the proposed closure of up to 159 Post Offices. The TD’s were speaking after Minister Naughten appeared to accept the closures as a fait accompli while offering no commitments of government support for those Post Offices that may require a temporary government subsidy:
“Those of us who went before the Committee yesterday to hear what positive solutions the Minister might advance, and in the hope that there might be some kind of political accountability were left bitterly disappointed.
Minister Naughten delivered a speech that was practically a carbon copy of a speech given by his predecessor, Pat Rabbitte, to the Seanad in July 2013.
Both speeches spoke of the need for change and for innovation as if that was some kind of staggering insight on government’s behalf.
The only problem is that the change and innovation that has been proposed and strongly supported by us for well over a decade has been utterly resisted all along the way in a series of catastrophic delaying tactics that has eventually led us to where we are today.
Minister Naughten then proceeded to draw wide ranging implications around who was to blame for the Post Office closures by citing one apparent instance of a lack of rural engagement. That was completely disingenuous and betrays the mentality that really exists behind this attack.
Minister Naughten also spoke of the dangers of government subsidies. Again, this is was completely disingenuous and unfair.
As then Minister Rabbitte noted in 2013, the post office network secures at least €126 million worth of business from the Government each year through its delivery of social welfare payments.
That is exactly the kind of service we need to see protected and expanded and it would totally avoid this nonsense around fears of government subsidies.
The message from those us in rural Ireland is that the fight is far from over and that we will continue until rural Ireland receives the fairness it is entitled to.”