asked the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs the date on which the sub-post office at Ballybrittas, County Laois became vacant; the date on which an appointment to this office was made by him; why this office was not advertised in order to permit the consideration of other applicants for appointment; if a transfer has been effected from the retired holder to the new appointee; the grounds on which such transfer was made; why the successful appointee was notified of this appointment before the local postmaster at Portlaoise; and if he will make a statement in relation to this appointment.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Ballybrittas (Laois) Sub-Post Office.
This vacancy arose on the 31st August, 1968, and the former sub-postmistress requested that the office be transferred to a relative.
There is a very long-standing practice in the Post Office under which the transfer of a sub-post office appointment to a relative of the former holder may be granted provided certain conditions are fulfilled; and the vacancy is advertised only if the transfer requested cannot be granted. All the necessary conditions were fulfilled in this case and I approved the transfer on the 1st May, 1969. The transferee was told about his appointment immediately because he had been inquiring about his position.
Surely the Parliamentary Secretary is aware that this is a case in which the local post office should have been advertised? Will he now say what is the degree of relationship between the former postmistress and the person so appointed? Further, does the Parliamentary Secretary not consider that the main reason why this post was not advertised was that in the village of Ballybrittas there are three Fianna Fáil supporters: one a publican, not interested; another the local postman; and the third a retired haulage contractor living in a vested council cottage, who has now been appointed postmaster of the area and who is at this moment in the process of erecting a counter in the cottage bedroom? Surely the Parliamentary Secretary must have an explanation as to why this vacancy was not advertised so as to enable others to be considered?
In reply to the first part of this longwinded supplementary, if I can recall——
What is the degree of relationship?
The successful applicant was a brother-in-law of the retiring postmistress and this is the relationship within which the selection board must operate if the man is considered to be otherwise satisfactory.
But what qualifications had he — a retired haulage contractor over the age of 65?
He was a brother-in-law. There is a longstanding practice in this and transfer may be effected provided the conditions are fulfilled. This condition was fulfilled. This practice is by arrangement with the sub-postmasters organisation.
Consanguinity is the most important qualification.
This is longstanding practice and the Deputy will get a rude awakening if he thinks there are only three Fianna Fáil supporters in the area.
May I ask why this retired haulage contractor was notified that he had been appointed before the postmaster in Portlaoise had been notified and why was he in the position that he could produce his notification without there having been any notification to the postmaster in the area?
When the Deputy asks a question he does not seem to be interested in the reply. Every point raised in the question was replied to and, in the finish, I said that he was told about his appointment immediately because he had been inquiring about his position.
Is it not the usual procedure that the local postmaster is first notified as to who is appointed sub-postmaster in his area?
That is so.
Why was that practice departed from in this case and why was a retired haulage contractor notified well in advance of the postmaster in Portlaoise?
Because I suffer from the same ailment as the Deputy does: when I have good news I like to pass it on.
Order. I was hoping Deputy Flanagan would not Continue because there are a great many questions still, to be answered.
Does the Parliamentary Secretary not consider that the principal qualification of the retired haulage contractor was that he was a generous subscriber to Fianna Fáil and was making an effort to organise Fianna Fáil in the village of Ballybrittas? This is a scandalous, rotten, corrupt appointment and I want to ask the Chair's permission to raise this matter on the Adjournment tomorrow night.
The Chair will communicate with the Deputy.
I am only too willing to discuss this matter publicly in the Square at Ballybrittas with the Deputy tomorrow night or any night.
I am here when my constituents want me here to protect them against corruption and dishonesty. This is jobbery. This is corruption of the highest degree.
I have called Question No. 24. Deputy Oliver Flanagan may not abuse the privileges of the Dáil in this fashion. He has given notice that he wishes to raise this matter on the Adjournment.
And I am grateful to you, a Cheann Comhairle.