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Post Office Network (Continued)

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 975 No. 2

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Seán Canney: Information on Seán Canney Zoom on Seán Canney] The deadline for receipt of appeals under this process was 31 October. I have been advised that 50 cases were submitted for review by the closing date from 159.

Deputy Pat The Cope Gallagher: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher I know from the tone of the speech from the Minister of State, Deputy Canney, that his heart is not in it. He knows rural Ireland as well as I do. The response was prepared by An Post and endorsed by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment. The one honest sentence indicates this was based on a "voluntary redundancy package" so why would 80% of the post office union not endorse it? It was in their interests. I am not critical of those who accepted the redundancy package but An Post should have replaced the services lost where people took the package. The response further indicates that some of the services or all could be provided in another retailer. The deadline for that was Wednesday, 31 October. How can we ask these people to run a business when decisions were not taken until into November and some will not be taken until December? How could a submission be made in advance of that?

It is a very sad day. If the Minister has a duplication of business, it means this is less important than the business he is now attending to. To us this is the most important business being discussed in this House today. It is a total insult to us as Deputies and to rural Ireland that this is being done. It is just not good enough. We are not prepared to accept this. We are looking for the Minister to meet a representative cross-party group of Deputies to discuss this matter and the associated protocols. Who appointed these people? It is a box ticking exercise. I ask the Minister of State, Deputy Canney, to confirm tonight that the Minister will meet that group of rural Deputies.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath That reply is unbecoming of the Minister of State and he knows, coming from a rural community, that it is balderdash. This is a rotten and stinking deal done by the Irish Postmasters Union, IPU. Who gave it any mandate to close post offices? I salute all the postmasters and postmistresses. More power to any of them who took the redundancy as they are entitled to it. Park that first of all. It did not give the IPU the right to negotiate away services from my village in Newcastle in Tipperary or the other five villages in Tipperary losing their post offices. The Minister would not even come in here, which demonstrates his disdain.

I have written to the four Fianna Fáil Deputies, including Deputy Michael McGrath, who are renegotiating the confidence and supply agreement. If Fianna Fáil cares about rural Ireland, with the Government it will prioritise these post offices and disband this cabal of people on a so-called independent inquiry team. Its members had neither the manners nor the respect to write back to our committee in Newcastle, which has gone about its work diligently and honestly. This is a cop-out and disgrace for the Minister of State to say what he has about this being successful.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Eugene Murphy): Information on Eugene Murphy Zoom on Eugene Murphy The Deputy has gone way over his time.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath The Minister must act. Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael must keep these post offices open. If that does not happen they should call an election and go to the country so the people can make a decision rather than a cabal of so-called independent people with a rotten and stinking deal that the union negotiated behind people's back.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Eugene Murphy): Information on Eugene Murphy Zoom on Eugene Murphy Deputy, please.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath They had no mandate for it.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Eugene Murphy): Information on Eugene Murphy Zoom on Eugene Murphy Resume your seat.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath The Acting Chairman knows all about it from his constituency.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Eugene Murphy): Information on Eugene Murphy Zoom on Eugene Murphy I am in the Chair now.

Deputy Seán Canney: Information on Seán Canney Zoom on Seán Canney I cannot make a commitment on behalf of the Minister but I will bring to him the Deputies' request to meet an all-party delegation.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath He should be here.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Eugene Murphy): Information on Eugene Murphy Zoom on Eugene Murphy Allow the Minister of State to answer the question.

Deputy Seán Canney: Information on Seán Canney Zoom on Seán Canney I am from rural Ireland and I understand this process, which is also happening in my constituency. The post office network has not been supported and many offices have closed because they have not been supported.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath This is a funny way of supporting them.

Deputy Seán Canney: Information on Seán Canney Zoom on Seán Canney We must discuss the facts. It is the Government's policy that An Post remains a strong company in a position to provide a high quality, national postal service and that it maintains a nationwide customer-focused network of post offices in the community.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath Closing the door.

Deputy Seán Canney: Information on Seán Canney Zoom on Seán Canney The Government remains fully committed to a sustainable post office network, which is a key piece of economic and social infrastructure for both rural and urban areas. The postmasters of this country and the communities they serve deserve a clear future and a plan to be put in place for the development of and investment into the post office network and its services. Such action was not taken by a series of Governments over many decades. We have now set out a clear path and future for the post office network.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath Closing its doors.

Deputy Seán Canney: Information on Seán Canney Zoom on Seán Canney The decision on whether to accept the voluntary redundancy package was one for individual postmasters and it is important that those decisions are respected. Where a post office closes, 70% of the business transfers to a neighbouring office. The reality is that by facilitating those who wish to exit the business, neighbouring offices will be further supported, thereby ensuring a sustainable network. Innovation and change are being embraced and new services will meet new needs. Politically, our responsibility is to lead that change and strengthen An Post as a public company delivering a public service.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath The Minister of State should stop reading. It is an insult to all our intelligence.

Deputy Seán Canney: Information on Seán Canney Zoom on Seán Canney It is about supporting the decisions required to translate aspirations into effective action.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Eugene Murphy): Information on Eugene Murphy Zoom on Eugene Murphy Out of common courtesy Deputy McGrath should allow people to reply. He can take this up again with the Minister.


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