POSTAL VOTING; Union backs candidates against Coalition in protest over closures.
Byline: ED CARTY
POSTMASTERS have vowed to back colleagues and candidates who stand in next year's election on a save post jobs and offices ticket.
With concerns that up to 557 premises could close by 2017 as more social welfare payments are made electronically, the Irish Postmasters' Union used its annual conference to declare full support for a threatened political campaign.
General secretary Ned O'Hara said: "They will run in their own right as Independents and will now have the strength of colleagues behind them.
"These candidates will be supported by 1,100 post offices who will be urging customers and communities to vote for the post office candidate over the Government parties."
Seona O'Fegan who has a post office in Barna, Co Galway used the conference to signal her interest in standing in Galway West. Mr O'Hara said: "If the Government takes the necessary steps to protect the network, it may not be necessary for the candidates to run.
"If there is not urgent progress, candidates and the constituencies they are running in, will be announced after the summer."
Last month the IPU called for the Government to back its six-point plan to save post offices or face a community-based cl campaign against established politicians. It added to that by calling on the public to boycott electronic welfare payments in favour of collection in post offices.
oeip IPU president Ciaran McEntee said: "To encourage people to use the post office we are placing ads in national newspapers which includes a form that can be completed and given Mepawc to your local postmaster to transfer method of payment to the post office. It can also be downloaded at www.postmasters.ie.
"In the coming weeks, these transfer forms will available in post offices across the country."
Currently, approximately half of social protection payments are paid electronically and half at the counter, with the Government planning to have 97% electronic by the end of 2018.
The IPU has called on the Government to make post offices the point of contact for payments for motor tax, driving licences, rates, rents and other local authority fees, hospital bills as well as being developed into a banking service, insurance and pension brokers.
The union also said post offices employ 3,700 people and that its services deter social welfare fraud.
firstname.lastname@example.org IRISH MIRROR COMMENT: PAGE 8
These candidates will be backed by 1,100 post offices NED O'HARA ipu gen secretary, yesterday