Cork County Councillors have called on the Minister for Communications, Richard Bruton, and An Post to offer incentives to allow businesses take over post offices in rural communities.
The move comes after Fine Gael Cllr Michael Hegarty rejected a letter from Minister Bruton stating he could not interfere with the commercial activities of the postal service.
In a letter written to Council regarding the recent closure of Cloyne Post Office the Minister said “Operational matters, including decisions relating to the Post Office network and the role of implementing commercial strategies for An Post, are a matter for the Board of Management of An Post.”
Last July Postmistress, Bridie Dunne, retired from the postal service following a lengthy career, but efforts by An Post to secure an alternative operator have failed.
Cllr Hegarty told Monday’s Sitting of full Council that he was very disappointed and said there is an onus on An Post and the Department of Communications to incentivise an operator to run a Post Office in key villages such as Cloyne.
He said “Cloyne is a key village, as outlined in the County Development Plan, and must have key services such as the Post office.”
Mr Hegarty said An Post are not making it attractive for an operator to take over the Cloyne postal service.
He said “to retro fit a facility to suit the requirements laid down by An Post costs anything up to €50,000 to €60,000.”
Cllr Gerard Murphy, Fine Gael said “what is happening is, that it is the policy of An Posts to relocate the office, within a village, to a shop or compatible business, but they are raising the goal posts so high that it is virtually impossible for that person to take on the operation.”
He said “the bottom line is, it’s only a guise to say they are closing the Post Office anyway.”
In a statement to the East Cork Journal, An Post said they had advertised the contract for Cloyne four times but were unsuccessful in finding a business partner to run the Post Office there.
A company spokesperson said “had we intended to close the office permanently, or been in any way lukewarm about the future of the office at Cloyne, we would not have made repeated efforts to maintain the local service.”
They said “It remains a business decision for potential Postmasters to weigh up the potential for a Post Office as an addition to an existing business.”