Roundwood Post Office saved but there’s concern for others in rural Wicklow as union predicts 400 under threat nationwide
There are fears for the future of a number of Post Offices in county Wicklow unless more government services can be offered to the public from them.
That is the stark assessment of the current state of Post Offices by its union representative – the Irish Postmasters Union (IPU), who claim up to 400 post offices, mainly in rural areas could close down in the near future.
Two Wicklow Post Offices at Coolboy and Donard were part of the 159 post offices nationally who shut up shop recently as part of a voluntary exit scheme.
However, concerns that Roundwood Post Office could close have been averted after it was announced that the postmaster from Enniskerry and Ballywaltrim would take over the running of it.
The previous postmaster retired in January and locals were worried that Roundwood would suffer the same fate as the post offices in Laragh and Kilmacanogue which closed due to retirements.
IPU president Seán Martin said a contract with support payments of 10% on each transaction concerning a government service is set to run out this year, which will leave Post Offices in a precarious position.
He is calling on the government to allow local Post Offices cater for more government services including driving licences, passports, motor tax, and government department administration.
“Post Offices have a central role to play in future economic and civic regeneration in villages, towns and urban communities. In the past two years, new financial and banking services have been successfully introduced working with An Post, and Postmasters have extended opening hours to meet customer needs.
“All state services, which are transacted over the counter, should become available in all Post Offices such as Motor Tax payments, Driving Licences, Passports, Public Service Card renewals, identity verification and admin for Departments.
“For example, the Road Safety Authority is about to go to tender for the national Driving Licence service, and the network could extend the accessibility of Driving Licence services for citizens,” Mr Martin concluded.
There are currently 952 offices in the Post Office Network including 897 Postmaster run offices and 45 An Post company offices which serve 1.3 million customers a week.