Use it or lose it! Appeal to protect rural post offices

WITH locals receiving letters urging them to sign up to receive their pension straight into their bank accounts, one Fermanagh pensioner has urged everyone to “pay every possible bill through the post office” in order to protect the service.
Sean O’Loughlin from Belleek was one of the many local pensioners to receive a letter recently urging them to switch from picking their pensions up at the bank to having it paid directly into a bank account. Mr O’Loughlin said the “intimidating” letters didn’t make it clear this was only optional and he knew several pensioners in Belleek, which no longer has a bank, had already made the switch without realising they didn’t have to.
Mr O’Loughlin said this latest move by the Department of Communities wasn’t “the full story”, though, and everyone needed to resist the continued removal of services from rural post offices.
“Over the years you paid your TV licence to post office, now you go to the supermarket to pay it,” he said. “That’s one service gone. You could pay your income tax through the post office, and you can’t do that anymore.
“I pay my rates through the post office, I pay my motor tax through the post office. My reason for paying them that way is to keep as much business in the post office as possible to keep them open. At my age, it’s not going to make an awful lot of difference, but nevertheless.
“I feel there should be a campaign to get people to continue paying the things they can through the post office.”
Mr O’Loughlin continued: “When I got my pension way back, they did their best to get me to have it paid through a bank. We had three banks in Belleek at that stage, and I refused. I insisted they give me one of the old style pension books until they got a card ready for me. I asked what would happen if your bank closed, I didn’t predict at that time all three would close.”
He concluded: “I think you have to pay every possible bill that you can through the post office. It would be easy to pay your bills and not go near the post office, but its the principle of keeping the post office open I’m concerned about.”

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The Fermanagh Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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