Issued by the Irish Postmasters’ Union
Friday, December 12th 2014
Government must direct more services to Post Offices
Postmasters have today welcomed the announcement of a Government backed Business Development Group to support the future of the Post Office network.
The announcement was made by the Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Joe McHugh, that the Cabinet has approved the establishment of a dedicated group to examine opportunities to deliver more government and commercial business through Post Offices.
The group is to include representation from the Government, An Post and the Irish Postmasters’ Union (IPU) – and be Chaired by an Independent Chairperson to be announced in January. The group is to provide an interim report by the end of March 2015 and a full report by June 2015.
IPU General Secretary Ned O’Hara welcomed the announcement and called for an immediate focus on tangible outcomes.
“Given the very serious difficulties Post Offices face, as Social Welfare is increasingly being paid by direct electronic transfer, this announcement is timely and very necessary. The only way that this process will be meaningful is if government is fully committed to supporting and enacting the opportunities which the group identifies.”
Mr. O’Hara said that the IPU was very disappointed at a recent statement by the Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly, in which he said there were no plans to make payment of Motor Tax Renewals available at Post Offices.
“Postmasters have repeatedly said that this was the easiest and most obvious additional service which could be delivered by Post Offices and we have estimated that doing so would save the taxpayer €63m over five years. We need a change in government thinking on this issue.”
IPU President Ciarán McEntee highlighted the strong level of public support which Post Offices have: “In the run up to the local elections this year, communities were very clear to candidates that they want their local Post Office maintained and developed both for its economic and social value.”
“We need Government’s full support to take advantage of the many opportunities which exist to make Post Offices the front office of public services, and routine commercial services, in communities throughout the country.
“In parallel people themselves need to use their Post Office to help keep it at the heart of the community.”
The IPU has repeatedly voiced its concerns as 30% of all Post Office business is generated from delivering Social Welfare cash payments and the Government is currently moving to provide these payments by direct electronic transfer to bank accounts.
Additional services which Postmasters believe Post Offices can provide include: A basic banking service; Motor Tax renewals, Driver Licence renewals; rates, rents and other Local Authority payments; lodgements and withdrawal services for Credit Unions; hospital charges; electronic form generation; insurance quotations and pension savings.
The Post Office Network
- Post Offices are the largest retail network in the country with 1,150 Offices, employing 3,700 people
- 1,100 of these Offices are operated by Postmasters who are locally based SMEs providing employment, facilitating economic activity and providing community engagement
- A world class IT system is in place in all Offices, with the smallest rural Offices technically capable of providing the same services as the GPO in Dublin.
Ronan Cavanagh, Cavanagh Commmunications: (086) 317 9731.