Opposition TDs have criticised the Government in the Dáil following last month's news of the proposed closures of post offices around the country.

The proposal follows a deal between An Post and the Irish Postmasters’ Union, which sees 159 postmasters and postmistresses set to retire and their offices will close.

An Post have said that all of the post offices scheduled to close are within a 15km radius of another post office.

Sinn Féin has tabled a motion on the future of the post office network and TDs across opposition benches spoke about the effects of the closures on various parts of rural Ireland.

The motion by Sinn Féin aims to save rural post offices. The party's communications spokesperson said that from 2000-2011, 732 post offices were closed under the Fianna Fáil government. 

Brian Stanley claimed that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael see post offices as a "burden", and suggested co-location to save them.

He said: "This is not being considered seriously. There are many places where a post office can be easily combined with a shop or garage, giving an additional income and most importantly additional services to communities.

"We need additional services in our post offices, such as government services like motor tax renewal."

Minister for Communications, Denis Naughten, said: "I point out to members that I was one of only five members of Dáil and Seanad Eireann to make a submission to the Kerr Report."

In January 2016, the report concluded that the future for Ireland’s post office network lies in providing more financial services.

The report recommended that less viable post offices become hubs for business and social activities in their areas.

Mr Naughten told the Dáil that work has started looking at a new offline avenue for all Government online services.

"We want to have a sustainable post office network that is available to all our citizens both urban and rural in the medium and long term," he said.

Earlier, he said that where a post office closes, its business will transfer to neighbouring post offices.

However, Fianna Fáil's communications spokesperson accused the minister of "robbing Peter to pay Paul".

Timmy Dooley said public services are needed as close as possible to the people who require it. 

He suggested that small businesses in towns and villages be used to retain social welfare payments locally.

Mr Naughten said An Post was altering the retail network to meet the changing needs of people across the county.

A number of protesters gathered outside the Dáil today to vocalise their objection to the proposed closures.