LABOUR leader Ivana Bacik has called for a revitalisation of the current post office network to create “proper community hub[s]” in local communities.
The Dublin Bay South TD, who grew up in Cork, made the comments during a visit to Cork this week.
“I’m absolutely passionate about using and building on the post office network. I’ve met with An Post centrally and indeed with my own local post office in Harold’s Cross about this.
“I’ve put down a number of parliamentary questions to [Communications] Minister Eamon Ryan about how we can build a post office network into a proper community hub,” she said.
Ms Bacik said a “core issue for Labour” is “the issue of community and building communities”.
“We can only do that if we continue to have some form of face-to-face engagement, some hub or facility for people to do that.
“One of the ideas I’ve had with the post office, that I’m exploring with An Post and I’ve put down a PQ [parliamentary question] on, is using the post office network much more extensively for example on passport applications, on NCTs, on renewal of driving licences, on all of these practical things that people have to travel to do to access what should be a public service, that a post office becomes the hub for that and indeed for citizens information.”
Labour Party councillor for the city’s North East ward, John Maher, echoed this call.
“We need to be smarter maybe in what these services offer, but let’s be smarter and let’s stop closing things down because once something is gone it’s very hard to get it back,” he said.
Speaking in relation to Blarney, Mr Maher said he is hopeful the future of the post office can be secured as two people have expressed interest in taking over as postmaster.
With several post offices closing in recent months and years, Mr Maher said An Post should review the contracts it is offering.
“A fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work is all we’re asking. I think that An Post need to take that on board,” he said.
In relation to postmaster contracts, a spokesperson for An Post said: “An Post is a major national retailer and Ireland’s most reputable company.
“Post office contracts are negotiated and agreed between An Post and the body representing contractors — Irish Postmasters Union, and they are a private matter between An Post and the individual postmaster.”