September 18, 2018:
Post Offices need many new services, continued investment and greater use from public
The Irish Postmasters’ Union (IPU) today said that ‘Kiwi community banking’ does not provide a ‘panacea solution’ to the challenges faced by the Post Office Network.
IPU General Secretary Ned O’Hara said while that today’s Post Office Dáil march was heartfelt and well-intended, its organisers were misleading communities in presenting ‘Kiwi community banking’ as one-fix-all solution for keeping non-viable Post Offices open.
The IPU, which represents approximately 90% of Postmasters, said that the challenges faced by the Network are multi-faceted, as are the solutions and efforts are underway to address these.
For example, significant financial and banking services are already available at local Post Offices with further offerings coming shortly.
“The Government, An Post, and the IPU have all looked at how banking and financial services can be expanded at Post Offices and this process is well underway. However, the model of community banking as developed in New Zealand has not been endorsed.
“As recently as last June the Department of Finance published a dedicated report on community banking similar to New Zealand. In a statement the Department said: ‘There is not a compelling case for the State to establish a new local public banking system’.
“An Post insurance, State savings (NTMA), agency banking (on behalf of AIB and Ulster Bank), and money transfer can be transacted in all Post Offices. A Post Office banking current account was introduced in 2017. Foreign Exchange was expanded earlier this year. Each of these financial and banking offerings already have significant market share and are growing.
“Small personal loans and credit card offerings will be introduced in 2019 and smaller SME loans are being explored. By mid 2019, the vast majority of main street banking services will be accessible through 960 Post Offices.
“We question the Independent Postmasters Group. What is its structure and governance procedures? Is it registered with the Registrar of Friendly Society’s? Who does it represent?
“In the current public debate on our Post Offices it is not true that ‘Kiwi community banking’ has somehow been over-looked, nor is it true that it is a simple solution.
“Selling this as otherwise to communities, who are devastated by a Post Office closure, simplifies the challenges faced. It also distracts from what needs to be done which is continuing to roll out many new financial, Government and social services, continued investment and for communities to make greater use of their service,” concluded Mr O’Hara.
Ronan Cavanagh, Cavanagh Communications: (086) 317 9731.