Financial support is urgently required to ensure the future of the Post Office network and its role at the heart of Irish economic and social life, two Fine Gael Senators have said.
A motion passed at a recent Fine Gael Parliamentary Party meeting in support of the Post Office network called on the Government to put supports in place to secure jobs and ensure a sustainable network into the future.
Speaking today, Senator John McGahon said: “Post offices across the country are facing a cliff-edge as the transformation payments agreed with An Post in 2018 are due to run out in a matter of weeks at the end of June.
“Post offices are at the heart of communities across Ireland, with the value of the network estimated to be up to €776 million. They currently employ more than 1,400 people, serve 1.3 million customers per week and process 30 million Department of Social Protection transactions annually.
“However, the future of the network is now being called into question as postmasters are looking at the possibility of having to shut up shop if the network’s financial future is not secured before the end of next month.
Senator Micheál Carrigy, who has been a postmaster since 2012, said: “One way in which we can ensure the future of our Post Office network is through the extension of its service offerings. I welcome the establishment of the Offline Services Group by Minister of State for Postal Services Hildegarde Naughton and believe this is key to ensuring a sustainable and viable network.
“There are huge opportunities to extend the services currently offered by post offices; opportunities that would represent value for money investment for the Government.
“We need to look at putting offline services, such as the processing of motor tax, back into our communities. By processing services and payments through our post offices, we can reduce fraud while also driving money back into supporting local jobs.
“The offering of offline services is one part of the solution, but it alone won’t be enough. At the end of the day, financial subvention is urgently needed.
“According to an analysis from Grant Thornton, an annual Public Service Obligation (PSO) of €17million is needed to secure the future of the Network. With a return of between €334 million and €776 million, Grant Thornton has outlined the value for money this would represent for the State.
“I know that Minister Naughton is working with her Department officials and colleagues across Government on the Offline Services Group and is currently considering proposals received from the Irish Postmasters’ Union (IPU). I would urge the Department to expedite this work and ensure that postmasters are given adequate notice of the type and timeline of supports which will be made available so that they can plan past the end of June and well into the future,” concluded Senator Carrigy.