Concerns raised over potential post office closures

An Post is losing around €12m a year, and the company is considering ways to save money

Concerns raised over potential post office closures

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It is reported some of the country's post offices could be facing closure as An Post looks to save money.

According to the Irish Independent, an unpublished report done for the company by businessman Bobby Kerr outlines a range of proposals - including the shutting of 80 outlets.

An Post has stressed that no decisions have yet been made.

There are currently 1,300 post offices around the country, and the company is losing around €12 million a year from its branch network.

Charlie Weston, Personal Finance Editor at the Irish Independent, says management at An Post are now reviewing the research.

He told Newstalk Breakfast: "There is a network of about 1,300 post offices out there, but something like 500 of them [...] are loss-making. Some of them are heavily loss-making - some of them do very little activity other than give out pensions, sell the odd stamp.

"It just can't be sustained - so the Bobby Kerr report identified 80 of the biggest loss-makers and said maybe they should close. None of this is finalised... An Post themselves are looking at it."

He added: "They're looking for a large chunk of money from the Government. Obviously a post office is not just a business - it's vital social activity in a town. You lose a post office branch, it really sucks the heart out of a town or village. So this could be quite controversial."

While the potential closures is among the most significant suggestions, Mr Weston described the report as "very broad and very balanced".

"It's not a slash-and-burn report," he observed. "He does have a large number of proposals, to ensure the future of post offices. It can't go on at the moment as is - if you're losing up to €12m a year, something will have to give."

Tipperary Deputy Mattie McGrath says the loss of post offices would be the latest blow for areas outside the capital.

The Independent TD says the Government seems to have no social conscience.

Speaking to Pat Kenny, he argued: "We know there's problems in An Post, but I believe they're looking in the wrong place."

He added: "We see the chronic problems in Dublin [...] but we can't get a small amount of money to make very, very necessary changes in rural Ireland."

In a statement today, An Post said: "We are currently completing the first detailed, in-depth review of the Post Office Network for many years.

"This review will take into account shifting demographics, the changing marketplace for services and the economics for postmasters. No decisions have been made while this review is ongoing."

It says it hopes the work will be completed in the coming months.