Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Listowel Post Office opens in Super Valu

Post Office Relocation

As we suspected this is the start of a trend. As well as Listowel, Laghey in Co. Donegal and Monksland in Co. Westmeath are soon to have Post and Pay outlets in major supermarkets. The new reality will be post offices located in Super Valus and Spars around the country. This is happening in the teeth of opposition from post masters and local communities.

Billy Keane has the bit between his teeth and is taking this fight to the bigwigs in An Post.

I'm reprinting his excellent article from The Irish Independent of Feb 16 2015

Looking back on it now, we never stood a chance against An Post. It was too big, too organised, too cute and An Post was as transparent as a black bin bag.
This morning I will pass the closed-up Listowel town centre Post Office on my way to work. Every time we pass is a reminder of the injustice. The post office has been moved by An Post to the Supervalu complex at the far end of town.
Supervalu and the person who now owns the post office didn't even have to apply for planning permission. They can tear out the heart of the old town and lift up a post office over houses and streets, in to the middle of a supermarket like a block of Lego and we can do nothing about it.
We tried. We marched and we protested, but we were beaten. Or were we?
For sure, it wasn't a fair fight. The law needs to be changed. At the very least the Government must bring in legislation. The moving of a big town centre post office in to a card shop in an off-street supermarket is surely a change of use, morally if not legally.
I'm pretty sure An Post were behind the relatively recent amendments to the Planning and Development Regulations 2001-2013. The law states that the change of use from a shop to a post office is an exempt development.
We may be right, we may be wrong, but at least give us back our right to have our say. There was no transparency. An Post was scheming away in the GPO, where patriots died to free Ireland. An Post is planning to close down more post offices in the very cradle where the men and women of 1916 rocked the world. It is clear now that the planning has been going or for some time. Rural postmasters have had their commission cut by 30pc by An Post in times when the internet has taken over from the letter.
Then the owners of the small post offices will call up An Post and say "we can't keep on going, we have to close." And An Post will say "isn't that an awful pity?" Another one bites the dust.
An Post is breathtakingly arrogant. It has consistently ignored the Public Procurement Guidelines and I quote Section 2.2: "In general, a competitive process carried out in an open, objective and transparent manner can achieve best value for money in public procurement."
The first we heard of the closing and relocation of our post office was in the pub and by then the deed was done.
We are the people who live in the town and we were never given the right to tender for our post office. Where was the transparency there?
The Joint Committee of the Oireachtas asked that an orange light warning system be put in place where a post office was in danger of being closed. It was an excellent idea. If there was a warning then the local community could rally behind the post office but An Post ignored the elected representatives, including Senator Ned O'Sullivan, who has given us massive support.
We cannot place all the blame on An Post. Cancel that direct debit and pay your bill through the local post office. Get the children's allowance in cash when you come from the city to see the mother and father. Open a post office savings account. Write a letter to a loved one in your own hand. Before long, it will become a family heirloom.
I never voted for An Post. I didn't see the executive's names on any ballot paper. Communications Minister Alex White must intervene, and now. There must be an end to hot tank government. Most of you insulate the hot tank from the cold. That's the way we are being governed now. There are layers of insulation between Government and the likes of An Post and the HSE. The politicians say it has nothing to do with them and that An Post is independent. Hot tank government is undemocratic. At the very least, change the planning regulations. It's too late for us but we're all in this together and maybe our protest will not be in vain.
My heart is in my socks today. I might call in to Matt and Nelly Kennelly for cheering up. Matt is in his eighties and runs The Cloth Hall, just a few doors away from the post office. The family have been selling clothes for 120 years. Matt marched with us and was the first to reach the old post office. He's a quiet man but he was fired up. "Keep fighting," he said in a proud, passionate and dignified voice.
Last Friday, I met a young lad who is moving back home from the city. He was energised by the protest. "Listowel is built on solid ground," he said.
"We have a place here worth fighting for. How can I help?" And there's a new energy on the committees I sit on. The losing was the winning.
Good luck to the new post office, even though big mistakes were made. To be fair, Supervalu have sponsored many local causes and there are fine people working there. Black and whites are for funerals and tennis. We live in a world of greys.
Charles Stewart Parnell spoke from the front of the wonderful Listowel Arms Hotel at a time when outside forces were threatening our very independence as a nation.
Parnell's words were reported locally as "let no man place a boundary on the march of a nation". Let no man place a boundary on the march of Listowel.
Irish Independent


Now and Then


I remember when Dr. O'Shea lived here


Fair Daffodils...


Remembering the late Dan Green

His many friends in Listowel and around the world remember at this time the tragic untimely loss of local businessman, Dan Green.  Church St. Listowel is a little less colorful, a little less stylish and a grimmer place since Dan's passing. R.I.P.

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