Village counts cost of post office closure

Dermott Duffy and Ellen Davis, Eyrecourt with campaigners at the start of the "Save Our Post Office" protest march to Banagher from Esker School. Photo: Gerry Stronge.

A Galway village, threatened with the loss of their post office, is counting the cost of the closure – with estimates that they will see a massive €80,000 a week disappear from their local economy.

Because that’s how much the post office in Eyrecourt current pays out in pensions and other social welfare entitlements every week.

Eyrecourt is one of 18 post offices earmarked for closure across the county – and locals who staged a major protest last weekend claim these payments will now relocate across the Shannon, with the Offaly village of Bannagher set to benefit.

Residents and business owners marched with placards from Esker Schoolhouse to the bridge at Banagher at the weekend to highlight the loss of their service – and the cost to their mirco-economy.

Dermot Duffy is a shop owner in Eyrecourt and he submitted an application to An Post to retain a postal service in the village following their recent decision to close down the post office there.

He said that he was willing to provide a service that would dispense the old age pension as well as facilitating other social welfare payments and services – but his application was rejected.

Mr Duffy was told he would have to fulfil a number of criteria – one of which was that he couldn’t be located within 15 kilometres of the nearest post office (Banagher is just eleven kilometres away), and also that he be located in a village with more than 500 residents.

“It was a case of me physically moving the village and, at the same time, luring another 250 people into Eyrecourt,” he remarked, adding that An Post put ‘insurmountable obstacles’ in his path.

He said that there were 213 people drawing their pension in Eyrecourt and this amounted to €80,000 which he emphasised was vital to be retained in the area.

A number of local meetings have taken place in recent weeks with Cllr Jimmy McClearn to the forefront of organising these.

Cllr McClearn said that there were existing businesses willing to take on the services that had been provided by these post offices – such as dispensing social welfare payments including old age pensions.

He added that the closures were implemented without any alternative being put in place. The councillor asked how the elderly were expected to travel 15 miles to collect their pensions when many of them cannot drive anymore.