May 10, 2019:
Postmasters call for all Government Departments to deliver more services at Post Offices
Postmasters today said that the future of Post Offices hangs on Government policy – and called for a major expansion of public services provided through the Network.
The call for Government action is the theme of the Irish Postmasters’ Union (IPU) Annual Conference, which takes place at the Midlands Park Hotel in Portlaoise (May 11 & 12).
During the past year Postmasters have worked with An Post and Government on a major transformation which has seen the Network reduce by 152. It now comprises 911 Postmaster and 45 An Post run Offices.
A new contract has been introduced for the majority of Postmasters, and An Post has rebranded the Network and introduced new financial services.
However, Postmasters today warned that almost no progress has been made on expanding the range of Government services provided through the Network, despite commitment a year ago to do so.
IPU General Secretary Ned O’Hara today called on the Taoiseach and each Government Minister to address this frustration which is shared by both Postmasters and An Post.
“We often hear Government platitudes about Post Offices, however the fact is that there is no sight yet of new Government services – and this is essential to offset the ongoing decline in social welfare payments.
“As online transactions increase, Post Offices must diversify their over the counter offerings. Many services have long been identified such as car tax, drivers’ licences, Leap cards and identity services.
“There is also an opportunity to better use the world-class IT system which Post Offices already have in place. While Broadband is awaited across many parts of the country, Post Offices can play a role in addressing this gap. Providing new Government services is not an optional extra – it is fundamental to the future,” Mr. O’Hara said.
Outgoing IPU President Paddy McCann said that: “Postmasters have shown themselves to be adaptable to difficult changes and new training over the past year, working with An Post to deliver new banking and insurances services.
“Government must now deliver its part. The IPU is calling on every Government Department to publish a plan with details of additional services which can be provided, along with a timeline of when they will become available.
“If Government does not take a serious level of initiative, and take it very soon, further large scale closures are absolutely inevitable – and for those remaining a Public Service Obligation (PSO) model will become necessary.
“Keeping our Post Office Network open also supports communities giving citizens services, choices and connectivity within their locality. We know that local access to essential services is what all communities want.”
Ronan Cavanagh, Cavanagh Communications: (086) 317 9731.