Postmasters call for government action to stop closures

Postal workers have called for the administration of a range of state services to be handed to the postal network

Postmasters call for government action to stop closures

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Postmasters from around the country are calling on the government to take action to expand the services offered by the Irish post office network.

The Irish Postmasters Union's (IPU) annual conference takes place this weekend in Westport, County Mayo.

The union has expressed its frustration at what it views as government inaction amid concerns that more than 200 post offices around the country are facing closure.

The organisation believes there are a range of additional products and services post offices could offer in order to keep the network viable.

It has called on the government to exploit the potential of the network by allowing post offices to offer as wide a range of official state services as possible.

The union insists that post offices offer a highly trusted and respected brand and has argued that while there has been a shift towards online transactions – there is still a need an appetite among customers for face-to-face services.

The union is set to enter talks with An Post over the coming weeks.

Political limbo

Responsibility for the sector is currently being transferred from Minister of State for Regional Economic Development, Michael Ring to the Minister for Communications Denis Naughten.

The general secretary of the IPU, Ned O'Hara said Minister Naughten will be addressing the conference this afternoon adding, “we will be anxious to hear what he has to say.”

“We have tried to get some leadership but we seem to be in political limbo between the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and the Department of Communications,” he said.

“We are starting a process with An Post; we want to be positive in that process but we need [...] government action in relation to the amount of services that we can provide through the network.

“We want to be the go-to place for help and advice on all government services and we feel that we are good value for money to provide those services.”

Glorified internet cafés

Meanwhile Fianna Fáil spokesperson on communications, Timmy Dooley has accused the minister of attempting to turn post offices into “glorified internet cafés.”

“Every time the minister speaks about the post office network, he waxes lyrical about the new services that he wants to bring to the post offices, but what are the new services that the Minister is talking about?” he said.

“It’s time the minister stopped talking in vague terms and gives us details about his plans for the future.”

He called on the minister to identify exactly which post offices he believes are no longer viable and that he intends to close.