Government urged to honour commitment on postal services

FIANNA Fáil Spokesperson on Social Protection Barry Cowen has called on the Government to honour its commitment to designate An Post as the universal postal service provider for 20 years.

FIANNA Fáil Spokesperson on Social Protection Barry Cowen has called on the Government to honour its commitment to designate An Post as the universal postal service provider for 20 years.

Deputy Cowen said Fine Gael and Labour made a firm commitment in the Programme for Government to protect An Post’s position as the State’s postal service provider for the next 20 years. “However it seems we can now add this to the growing list of broken promises from Fine Gael and Labour since they took up office,” said Deputy Cowen.

“They are now pushing through the final stages of the Communications Regulation (Postal Services) Bill, and have failed to include the 20 year provision. In fact, they have made provisions for the An Post contract to be reduced to just 7 years – essentially paving the way for radical changes in the service in the near future. The risk is the complete disintegration of our postal services as we know it, particularly in rural communities,” he said.

Deputy Cowen said Fianna Fail has tabled an amendment calling on the Government to honour its promise to designate An Post as our universal postal service provider for a period of 20 years. He said the detrimental impact of reneging on this is obvious, “but the Government don’t have to take my word for it.”

“I will remind them of their own words on this matter just four months ago:

“A universal postal service is an essential public service, in particular for rural communities and those disadvantaged communities affected by digital divide. A publicly owned, commercially viable, profitable and efficient An Post is critical to the long-term viability of the postal market. We will enact into law the Postal Services Bill which opens postal market to competition. Will protect universal service obligation by assigning it to An Post for at least 20 years, make provision for state subvention and require that any decision by ComReg to reassign or scrap USO is subject to ministerial approval.” – Programme for Government 2011.

“I am urging the Government to back down on this blatant u-turn today. They have a real opportunity here to take action to protect an essential service in communities around the Ireland,” concluded Deputy Cowen.