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Snippet Contents:

I also wish the Minister, Deputy Naughten, a speedy recovery.
When I was growing up in Rathangan, County Kildare, one of the great institutions in our small village was not just the post office but the postmistress. She was a wonderful woman named Mollie Forde. She was a friend to everyone who supported everyone, young and old, and always gave advice and help where she could. There were queues both inside and outside the post office for all the services she provided. She knew everyone well enough to know when someone turned 18 and were to be placed on the electoral register. She provided that social service. Sadly, Mollie is no longer with us but, thankfully, the post office remains. I would hate to see or envisage Rathangan or any similar village or town not having the services of a post office.
In Ballymore Eustace, County Kildare, Sean Fogarty runs an absolutely thriving business. He had to diversify, be creative and look beyond the common to be able to provide the post office service he provides. A few miles up the road we have the post office in Twomilehouse. This great example of a rural post office was run for 50 years by Jim Valentine and his wife, Abina. Jim's mother was the postmistress before him, since 1938, which is almost 80 years ago. That post office and small shop operated from 7.30 a.m. every day for as long as anyone in the locality could remember. The kitchen table was the sorting end of the business. Coming up to Christmas, the Christmas cards would be laid out by county and the turkeys were brought in for Abina to send to England and further afield. Quite often, she had to kill the turkeys herself. That was the process many years ago. Sadly, just before Christmas the Valentines retired and the post office network put the business out for tender. However, no offer has been made yet. This relates to the fact that small rural post offices now operate for less than the equivalent of the national minimum wage. As such, they are not viable business propositions, but the whole community is losing out on a vital service. Places such as that of the Valentines, Sean Fogarty and the post office in Rathangan have played a vital social and economic role in the communities they serve. We need to acknowledge that with a reduced income and footfall, the future of this type of post office is in danger.
The Grant Thornton report states we are at risk of losing between 450 and 500 of our 1,300 post offices by the end of this year if the situation is not properly addressed. The report also reminds us of the intangible benefits provided by post offices.