“The closure of Roscrea Post Office is not on the cards, Post Office Services will continue at the same building in Market Square, and the existing staff of An Post in Roscrea will continue to serve the public”, the words of Michael Smith TD at a hard hitting public meeting concerning the future of Roscrea Post Office which was convened by RCDC and took place in Grant’s Hotel on Monday evening last.
John Lupton Chaired the meeting which was reasonably well attended by the public and by the majority of politicians and councillors in North Tipperary. In his opening address Mr Lupton said it was frustrating that there was no representation on the night from “An Post”. In response to a number of questions from the floor which echoed the disappointment that no staff from the local Post Office were in attendance, Mr Lupton said that perhaps it was an An Post directive that they should not attend the public forum. President of Roscrea Chamber Of Commerce Flor Spillane said that while the reality is “An Post” is changing, he saw no reason as to why Roscrea should have to suffer another knock and risk losing the services of its local post office.
Seamus Morris who will represent Sinn Fein for North Tipperary in the upcoming general election said it was a disgrace that there was no accountability from An Post on this issue of downgrading its services in Roscrea. Mr Morris said this should not be accepted and the elected TD’S of North Tipperary should fight to ensure An Post continues offering the same services as always in Roscrea.
Michael Smith TD informed the meeting that he had made numerous representations to An Post and that the local office in Roscrea would certainly not be downgraded or closed. Mr Smith said the present employees of An Post in Roscrea were in negotiations with their Unions and a deal would be struck in the near future whereby an existing staff member of An Post will take over the Post Office in Roscrea. He said the current members of An Post in Roscrea would accept this and that services would continue as normal at the current location of An Post in Roscrea. Mr Smith said this was an irreversible decision but that it was a reality that should be faced and at the end of the day Roscrea People and their neighbouring parishes would certainly not be losing any of the existing services offered by An Post.
Senator Noel Coonan then challenged Michael Smith’s reporting on the issue. Senator Coonan said there was a time Roscrea was on a par with towns like Portlaoise and Tullamore but the recent news that the Post Office in Roscrea would be downgraded was a further blow to the town. Senator Coonan said he publicly called on An Post at the last Chamber meeting of Roscrea Chamber Of Commerce to clarify their position with regards Roscrea. He said he was alarmed that the management of An Post had not bothered updating the people of Roscrea on the current situation. Senator Coonan said An Post should be looking to improve the services in Roscrea not downgrade them and he pledged his support to any committee fighting to keep An Post in its present capacity alive in Roscrea.
Marie Hoctor TD said her understanding of the situation with An Post was the same as Michael Smith’s, however Senator Kathleen O’Meara who was very appreciative of her invitation to the meeting said that while a deal has probably been done with regards the future of the Post Office in Roscrea as regards franchising the existing office, she said the big worry was that once franchised there was absolutely no guarantee that the Post Office Services would continue indefinitely in Roscrea. Senator O’Meara said the reality was that if the Post Office in Roscrea was not commercially viable in the future in Roscrea it would close. For this reason alone Senator O’Meara pledged her support to any taskforce established to take up this issue with An Post. Senator O’Meara said it was time for the community of Roscrea to show its frustration at this impending decision. Senator O’Meara said An Post should not be allowed walk away from Roscrea and any contracts negotiated over the next few weeks should provide safeguards for the future of a full Post Office Service in Roscrea.
Cllr Jim Ryan, Mayor of Tipperary said it was frustrating that there was so much conflict of opinion amongst local politicians. He said because Roscrea had no Town Council to fight for its rights that it was dependent on the County Council to make sure the town is not bullied or neglected. Cllr Ryan said he had asked at the last Council meeting and would demand at the next Council meeting that An Post be made accountable and have the decency to explain the current situation. Cllr Ryan said not only should the current An Post service in Roscrea be maintained, it should be improved.
Cllr Michael Smith said there was a certain amount of “electioneering” taking place at the public forum. Cllr Smith said discussions were ongoing since 2002 with regards the future of An Post in Roscrea. He said the current services, employees and buildings will be retained and that the change of status of An Post in towns like Lifford and Kildare had not done any harm whatsoever to their respective communities and economies.
Michael Lowry TD said while he accepted that a deal was properly almost done with regards the future of An Post in Roscrea, he said a long term lease is needed that would allow the owners of the new franchise time to invest in technology etc and build upon the current offerings of An Post to the town.
Cllr Pauline Coonan suggested that a petition be launched to allow the people of Roscrea voice their anger at any decision to downgrade the Post Office while Cllr Denis Ryan said the news with An post certainly didn’t augur well for attracting new people to the area via the decentralisation programme.
To conclude the meeting John Lupton suggested that a committee be put in place to petition the protest of the town to the management of An Post. John Lupton, Steve Crofton, Flor Spillane, Senator Kathleen O’Meara and Cllr Pauline Coonan agreed to join the committee. Anyone else interested in joining that committee should contact any of these existing committee members. For now the nature of the exact future of An Post in Roscrea still remain a little unclear.