Countdown to crunch meeting; Farren meets Minister in Dublin
The future of the Greencastle Post Office could be decided in twelve days time when members of a local action group meet with senior An Post management at a crunch meeting in the Redcastle Hotel on October 8.
The service has been under threat since the sudden death of long-serving Postmaster Cyril Gormley last month with An Post confirming that a number of options, including closure, are currently being considered.
Spokesperson for the Greencastle Post Office Campaign Gemma Havlin is hopeful that An Post will listen to the concerns of those in the community, who have been given until tomorrow, Friday, September 27 to put their views to the semi-State body.
“We are going to stay positive but we won’t be complacent. I am hoping the fact that An Post has agreed to a meeting is a good sign. It would be worse if they said they weren’t going to meet us. I’d like to think that they are going to give us a chance to keep the provision,” she said.
Hundreds of people gathered last Friday afternoon for a mass show of support outside the Post Office, which has been in the Gormley family name since 1919.
Gemma said it is now vital that the current community goodwill is harnessed correctly and people continue to support the PO service, simply by using it as much as possible.
“The bottom line is that people have to use the Post Office and make themselves aware of the full range of services that are available there, such as AIB banking and much, much more,” she said.
“We don’t know what the balance sheets are saying but we believe that Greencastle Post Office is an economically viable facility for the village without any huge running costs; there is just one full-time member of staff,” Gemma added.
Local county councillor Martin Farren travelled on Tuesday to Dublin, where he had a fifteen-minute meeting with Minister for Communications Pat Rabitte and Labour Senator Jimmy Harte.
“I put my case forward to Minister Rabitte and he took my concerns on board. I didn’t just inform him of my own concerns but rather the concerns of the entire Greencastle community,” Cllr. Farren added.
“It is extremely important that the service is saved and that we all do our utmost to make sure that An Post realises that the only possible conclusion to all of this is to keep the Post Office open for business as usual,” he said.
Cllr. Farren also attended a key meeting in Leinster House yesterday [Wednesday] when he discussed the future of the Post Office with local members of the Oireachtas.
The Moville politician went on to praise those working in the action group, set-up to lobby on behalf of the Greencastle Post Office.
“I couldn’t pay them enough compliments,” Farren added.
Meanwhile Deputy Joe McHugh raised the issue in the Dail on Tuesday night. He said the Post Office is vital to the community.
“It is a commercial centre. I do not need to remind members that it is one of our main fishing ports. It is important to point out that many students attend the National Fisheries College is in Greencastle. I say this in support of the postal service in the Greencastle area,” he said.
“It is not just an outpost that is on the periphery. It serves an important function. The community has reacted in a positive way. Local people are willing to work with An Post to see whether additional measures can be implemented to provide for a more progressive service,” Deputy McHugh added.
Minister for Communications Pat Rabitte did not attend the debate but Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn responded on his behalf.
Deputy Quinn said: “The commercial operation of An Post’s Post Office network is a matter for the board and management of the company. It is not one in which the Minister has a direct statutory function.”
“The Minister understands that due to the death of the postmaster in Greencastle last month, the son of the former postmaster has been put on a temporary contract to operate the service pending a review of services in the area. When postmaster vacancies arise, An Post reviews the need for a Post Office as a standard procedure. In this case, An Post decided to proceed with local consultation.”
“It is the intention of the company after September 27 to consider the position taking account of any relevant factors, including views received, and to take a decision on the future of the office at that stage. At this point in time, no decision has been taken in the matter,” Mr. Quinn said.
“As we have heard, the nearest post office to Greencastle is located in Moville, which is approximately three miles away. It has been mentioned that the AIB branch in Moville closed recently. The Minister is satisfied that the criteria used by An Post to decide on the future of individual post offices are robust enough to take account of changes in local circumstances.”
“It should be noted that An Post is facing many challenges, not only financially but also as a result of the development of communications technologies. Any decision it may take must be considered in the context of maintaining a sustainable post office network,” Minister Quinn added.