The President of ICMSA has described as “utterly bewildering” the Government’s policy towards rural Ireland in light of reports that An Post is poised to close some 80-odd post offices while Ulster Bank is rumoured to be on the verge of shutting one-in-four of its 120 branches in the state. John Comer noted that mere weeks ago, and with a fanfare of publicity, Minister Humphreys had launched the Action Plan for Rural Development, which laid out the Government’s ambitions to halt and reverse the decades of decline and neglect that had characterised successive governments’ attitude towards rural Ireland. Mr Comer noted the enthusiasm with which his association and many others had greeted the sign that we were now ‘turning the page’ on what appeared to be indifference and neglect and the State would now work with and within rural districts to bring life, vitality and commerce back into these forgotten areas.
Since that announcement a mere five weeks ago, we had learned that Bus Eireann intends cutting several rural routes practically denuding even more areas of the country of any public transport system, Minister Ross had introduced a measure that was widely interpreted as being wholly unfair to people living in rural or remote areas and, just today, we learn that the already skeletal system of rural banking and post offices is to be hacked at again. Mr Comer said that ministers must understand the utterly bewildering mixed messages they are sending.
“There’s a great deal of confusion and disappointment around this news – and it’s magnified by the optimism that many of us felt just a few weeks ago when it looks like we were going to see a serious attempt to integrate rural areas into the urban and suburban economies. We have to see the Irish State committing to all the citizens regardless of where they live or how far they are from Merrion Street. Only the State can lead in this respect and we really need to see it setting out that positive vision in an unmistakable manner that doesn’t allow for confusion”
Ends 7 March 2017.
John Comer, 087-2057846
Cathal MacCarthy, 0087-6168758
ICMSA Press Office