RURAL PUBS in Ireland could soon be issuing social welfare payments alongside pints and packets of crisps under bold proposals put forward by Fianna Fáil.
A total of 159 post offices in villages and rural locations across Ireland are set to close by the end of January as part of a deal between An Post and the Irish Postmasters' Union.
All of the offices due to close are within 15km of at least one other post office.
However, Fianna Fáil has expressed concern the change could prevent elderly and infirm residents living in these remote areas from receiving benefits, due to the longer distances they will need to travel.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, party communications spokesperson Timmy Dooley called for steps to be taken to ensure these key post office transactions are made available more locally.
"Transfer those 11 payments to the local shop, or the local pub or the retaining business and give the owner of that business a couple of bob to deliver the service. They will do it for you," he said.
Dooley also urged more rural businesses to adopt the PostPoint system which sees shops able to offer a range of services including mobile phone top up, Bill Payment, Stamps, One4all Gift Cards, The National Lottery and Paysafecard.
There are currently 400 PostPoint stores open nationwide in Ireland.
Of the 159 post offices set to be closed, the highest number of closures are set to come in Galway (18), with Donegal (17), Cork and Kerry (both 12) also noticeably affected.
Both Mayo and Wexford (11) are facing several closures, with Dublin the only county facing no closures.