Thousands of customers are to be affected by the proposed closure and overhaul of almost 100 post offices across Northern Ireland, a major consultation process has revealed.
The axe is set to fall on 42 branches across the province.
This will reduce the number of branches from 534 to 492.
However, with 54 being earmarked for restructuring as outreach services, only 438 will be permanent post office branches.
The plans were published as the Post Office Ltd launched a six-week public consultation as part of Government policy to close 2,500 post offices.
Although many sub-postmasters were unable to talk about the closures, customers and politicians expressed their anger and concern about the impact the closures would have on communities.
Sheila McCann, Post Office Ltd's Network Development Manager for Northern Ireland, said: "Taking the decision to close any Post Office branch is always very difficult and we know will cause concern to many of our customers.
"The purpose of this public consultation is to ensure that we have the best available local knowledge to allow us to make the most informed decisions about which branches should close or be replaced by an outreach service.
"Post Office Ltd's aim is to continue to provide essential services and support retail businesses and the local economy in as many communities as possible, subject to the very strict minimum access criteria set by Government."
Ms McCann added: "In rural areas, where 61.5% of the population live, customers would be served by a total of 341 branches after these proposals, 155 of which would provide the only access to cash in their communities. As part of the proposals for Northern Ireland we will be consulting on 54 outreach outlets and we want to hear the views of local communities about these proposed services.
"Urban parts of Northern Ireland, where 38.5% of the population live, would be served by a total of 151 branches. Of these, 68 will specifically serve communities defined as deprived, supporting the Government's focus on the provision of services in these locations."
Maureen Edmondson, Chair of Postwatch Northern Ireland, said it is important that change happens in a way that is customer-focussed and avoids confusion.
"Local information will be vital so that changes in the post office network take proper account of the particular needs and circumstances of communities.
"Post office closures are never good news. However many Northern Ireland customers are relatively fortunate in that the majority of proposed alterations are changes to service, rather than outright closures."
Stephen Harper, Northern Ireland Executive Council member for The National Federation of SubPostmasters, said: "The Government must now focus its efforts to deliver the investment and new products and services required to make sure that the new post office network is given the best possible chance to survive and thrive in the future."
A spokesman for the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) said it is "regrettable" that the proposals will result in a reduction in the service which many regard as essential to support the fabric of community life.
"The outcome of this consultation must reflect a real appreciation of and a response to the needs of the community, particularly the most vulnerable and those in isolated areas."
"It is essential therefore that all those who represent their communities should carefully consider these proposals and respond in the light of their likely impact on their local areas."
South Belfast MP Dr Alasdair McDonnell: "The long term survival of the Post Office as a community service is under considerable threat.
"We should be exploring the idea, as Essex County Council and Glasgow City Council are doing, of local authorities effectively running post offices with expanded functions".
For more see www.postoffice.co.uk/network change