MEMBERS of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council have demanded answers over the future of Enniskillen Post Office, and criticised mixed-messages around the position.

At the most recent meeting, Councillor Howard Thornton, Ulster Unionist told members the town centre’s post office had closed “suddenly and without any warning to the public”.

He noted Sinn Fein Councillor Tommy Maguire was made aware of imminent closure at the end of July through a member of the town’s business community, and shared this with other councillors.

An urgent meeting was sought with the Post Office, who advised the closure was instead scheduled for the end of August.

A second meeting was hosted in Enniskillen, attended by the local business community, elected representatives and Council officials, where: “We were unexpectedly told the post office would close at 5.30pm the following day – a week earlier than we were previously advised,” said Councillor Thornton.

“Notification to the public was solely by means of signs on windows of the premises, erected just 24 hours prior to the closure.

“No assurance was provided about a re-opening, but we were assured we would be kept up to date with developments. Council has heard nothing.”

Councillor Thornton told members just ahead of the Council meeting that word was received saying “work was in progress but [is] in no way finalised”.

He stressed people and businesses in the town were angered, and while cover is unde rway at two sub-post offices on the outskirts of Enniskillen, these “do not have the required parking or internal capability to deal with this sudden closure”.

He continued: “Older people and those with restricted travel are the most inconvenienced.”

While there has been speculation and rumour of reopening of a central post office, nobody knows exactly what is happening, causing huge frustration.

“The whole process, or lack of process, has been an absolute disgrace,” added Councillor Thornton.

He proposed writing to the highest level of Post Office management expressing total dissatisfaction and an apparent lack of urgency in resolving problems.

Councillor Thornton also sought: “Immediate notification to [the] Council when the situation eventually resolves, to allow people and businesses to be advised accordingly and reduce current frustration.”

Seconding, Councillor Maguire added his voice to the dissatisfaction with the Post Office, describing the closures as “a total lack of social conscience”.

He continued: “These money-making organisations have no concern for the provision of service to the community. It is a further diminution of services to the West.”

Ulster Unionist Councillor Robert Irvine called for Council directors to examine the issue, and pointed to “a pattern over the last few years within Post Office itself”.

Councillor Irvine added: “This is a very high-profile issue. The Post Office is more than a private sector organisation, even though it’s privately run. We need a long-term strategy. All we are doing is sweeping up after the event.”

Concluding, Councillor Donal O’Cofaigh, Independent, said he has written to Post Office expressing his concerns, but so far has received only a holding statement.

“It’s a disgraceful situation where our county town of Enniskillen has lost its High Street post office. 

“It’s scandalous it has come to this. Since the privatisation of Royal Mail and the break with Post Office, we’ve seen a deterioration of basic provision.

“Instead of being public service [orientated] we are seeing a move toward more and more reliance on private-sector operators to host Post Office services,” he said.