Lo­cals bat­tle to save Gur­teen post of­fice

Ac­tion group warns of 30 job losses if planned clo­sure of out­let on Jan­uary 31st goes ahead

The Irish Times - - Home News - MARESE McDON­AGH

Vil­lagers in Gur­teen, Co Sligo, who have launched a “mil­i­tary-style” op­er­a­tion in a bid to save their post of­fice, say 30 jobs will be lost if the out­let closes on Jan­uary 31st.

In a bid to con­vince An Post that their post of­fice is vi­able, a lo­cal ac­tion group has con­ducted a cen­sus in the vil­lage show­ing it has a pop­u­la­tion of 512 – con­sid­er­ably more than the 2016 cen­sus fig­ure of 393.

“We went door to door and did a like-for-like sur­vey, us­ing a map to cover the same area as the cen­sus,” ex­plained Nigel Clancy of the Gur­teen Post Of­fice Ac­tion Group.

An Post has said that a 500-strong pop­u­la­tion is needed for a post of­fice to be vi­able.

Gur­teen post of­fice had been due to close at the end of Oc­to­ber last but got a three-month re­prieve. Mr Clancy pointed out that since then 90 new post of­fice ac­counts have been opened, with an es­ti­mated 75 per cent of these for lo­cal chil­dren.

More than 100 peo­ple, in­clud­ing par­ents and chil­dren from the lo­cal Busy Bees Day Care Cen­tre, gath­ered at the post of­fice yes­ter­day morn­ing, with many of the chil­dren car­ry­ing their post of­fice sav­ings books. “This is a vi­brant vil­lage. We have gone from a three-teacher to a five-teacher school over the past three years and now have 116 pupils,” Mr Clancy said.

Com­muter town

The ac­tion group in­sists that Gur­teen is more vi­able than many of the other re­cently closed ru­ral post of­fices be­cause so many peo­ple have moved to the vil­lage in re­cent years as it be­comes a “com­muter town to Sligo”.

“There is not one house avail­able for rent in Gur­teen at the mo­ment,” said Mr Clancy.

An Post said that “as of right now” Gur­teen post of­fice is sched­uled to close on Jan­uary 31st. “We have a de­ci­sion to make in the next few days,” added a spokesman, who said an an­nounce­ment would be made this week.

Tom McGet­trick, chair­man of the ac­tion group, said there were 27 busi­nesses em­ploy­ing more than 170 peo­ple be­tween the vil­lage sign­posts. “On Thurs­days and Fri­days when peo­ple get their pay­ments they go for cof­fee or break­fast, and they do their shop­ping. We have a few hair­dressers in the vil­lage, we have a phar­macy and our ho­tel re­cently re-opened.

“One lady told me re­cently that after draw­ing her pen­sion she got her hair done, she did her shop­ping, she went to the phar­macy and to the cream­ery store and after all that she had ¤25 of her pen­sion left.”

PHO­TO­GRAPH: BRIAN FAR­RELL

More than 100 peo­ple gath­ered at Gur­teen post of­fice in Co Sligo yes­ter­day morn­ing.

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