State sucks the life out of rural Galway

Deputy Anne Rabbitte.

The closure of rural post offices, schools, pubs, bus stops and Garda stations being left unmanned is “sucking the life out of County Galway”, according to a local TD.

Deputy Anne Rabbitte told the Connacht Tribune that small rural communities – the ‘social fabric’ of Ireland – are fading into extinction because of cuts and closures.

The have been renewed calls to halt the ‘negative multiplier effect’ – the post office is seen as a magnet for footfall in towns and villages, if it closes, there is a knock-on effect on other services.

Deputy Rabbitte’s comments came following the confirmation that ten post offices in the county will potentially close under a voluntary retirement scheme.

The ten in Galway – Ballyglunin; Cloghbrack; Colemanstown; Cornamona, Inverin; Kiltullagh; Kylebrack; Lettermullen; Menlough and Woodlawn – are amongst a list of 161 in the country where the postmaster or postmistress have expressed an interest to An Post in a voluntary redundancy scheme. The definitive list will be published at the end of August.

“People are disgusted. To some people, the local post office is the only social outlet they have. They’ve already lost the national schools, some are losing their bus stops, the pubs have closed and Garda stations are unmanned. There’s nothing left for them [the Government] to take.

“Why is the life being sucked out of these areas? The biggest concern people have is rural isolation,” said Deputy Rabbitte.

She said that post office operators are entitled to retire, but agrees with a Fianna Fáil party proposal that post offices in certain locations could be run under PSO (Public Service Obligation) contracts.

“Maybe the people behind the counter really want to go, and they are absolutely entitled to. And they are entitled to express an interest to see what they would get from An Post.

“I don’t think they expected An Post to release the list of expressions of interest. Some may not have told staff, they may have been weighing up their options.

“We need to look at PSO commitments for post offices in certain locations – we know they won’t make any money, but we also know that they are needed. They provide important services and are part of the social fabric of our communities,” said Deputy Rabbitte.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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