News release: Issued by the Irish Postmasters’ Union
Tuesday, March 25th 2014.
The Irish Postmasters’ Union (IPU) been asked to make a detailed submission on the future of Post Offices to a Cabinet Committee, following a meeting with the Minister for Communications, Pat Rabbitte.
IPU General Secretary Brian McGann described yesterday’s meeting as a positive step in dealing with issues of concern to Postmasters and both parties have agreed to meet again in April to review progress.
Following the meeting, the Union has been asked to make a submission by the end of next week to the Cabinet Committee on Social Policy setting out its recommendations on how the long-term sustainability of the Network can be secured.
Postmasters serious concerns follow a recent independent report by Grant Thornton which concluded that significant numbers of Post Offices nationwide would close by 2017, mainly due to current changes in how social welfare payments are being made.
Minister Rabbitte confirmed that he had already sought input from his Cabinet colleagues on a viable future for the Network.
Mr. McGann said the Minister also expressed an openness to examining options for a full banking service at Post Offices.
“The Minister was particularly interested in the Union’s proposal to establish a working group under the Chairmanship of Professor Ray Kinsella to examine options for banking. The Minister said he would recommend to the Cabinet Committee on Social Policy that the suggestion be explored further.”
Following a detailed discussion on the current migration of welfare payments from cash to electronic format, Minister Rabbitte welcomed the IPU’s comments that it wanted to be part of an electronic future as his Department has responsibility for digital policy.
The Union advised that it was awaiting a response to discuss the issue with the Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton.
”The IPU is open to delivering payment services in a different way, but is calling for the existing migration programme to be suspended until a different solution is agreed and developed,” Mr McGann said.
In relation to the Post and Pay partnership between Tesco and An Post, it was confirmed at the meeting that the pilot would be limited to 10 sites and the Minister stated that he would be receiving a report on the pilot scheme in due course. The Postmasters welcomed the clarification and advised that it would be making its opposition to the scheme clear to An Post at a meeting this Friday.
The Minister also said that he was open to appointing a facilitator to help resolve issues between Postmasters and An Post, if of assistance, and said he would await the outcome of specific discussions on the matter between the parties.