14 April 2016.
Postmasters’ Executive staged a protest outside the Department of Social Protection today, accusing the Department of deliberately trying to ‘shut them down’.
The Irish Postmasters’ Union (IPU) said the Department is systematically transferring Post Office business to the private banks – and called on Minister Burton to immediately cease and reverse this policy.
The IPU met with the caretaker Minister Joan Burton this week to highlight their frustration following a letter which the Department sent to casual and part-time workers, seeking their bank details for future payment. The letter made no reference to the Post Office, or that people could continue using the Post Office if they choose.
Postmasters said customers believed they had no choice and are being forced to the banks where they are faced with bank charges in order to collect their payments.
IPU General Secretary Ned O’Hara said Minister Burton had refused to withdraw the letters and to cease the transfer of Post Office business to the banks.
“Social Protection transactions account for 30% of all Post Office business and an estimated 50% including spin off transactions. Taking this work away from the Network will close Post Offices all across the county.
“We can’t understand why the Minister is applying this policy when there is very strong public support for Post Offices. The IPU collected half a million public signatures prior to election calling on the Government support the Network.
“Also we have a Government, An Post and IPU supported Working Group, Chaired by Bobby Kerr, currently working to develop a Five Year Strategy to grow and diversify Post Office services, including new epayment choices for customers.
“How can it be that a Department of Communications led Group is working to develop Post Offices, while the Department of Social Protection is sending letters that will close it down?
“Method of payments will be examined and agreed within the Working Group. The IPU is calling for the Department of Social Protection, as part of a Government which has been entrusted by the Irish people to manage the Post Office Network on their behalf, to encourage the use of its own Network rather than directing people to commercial banks.” Mr O’Hara said.
IPU President Paddy McCann said there is huge potential to develop the Network. “We are the largest Network in Ireland with 1,150 Offices. We can be the front office of Government services in local communities, support access to health and transport services in rural areas, provide essential commercial services and continue to be a social centrepoint in the community.
“The need for locally based services and greater regard for community were central issues during the General Election campaign. The Post Office is a core piece of infrastructure for delivering on this – and this must be reflected in Government policy.”
Ronan Cavanagh, Cavanagh Communications (086) 317 9731.