Nolan: Government must support rural Post Offices
Offaly TD Carol Nolan has welcomed the agreement of a severance compensation package between the Irish Postmasters Union and An Post and has iterated the importance of maintaining an accessible network of Post Offices in rural areas.
Speaking this week in response to the Agreement, which will offer a voluntary exit package to approximately 390 operators, the Offaly-North Tipperary deputy stated that Government also has an obligation to support a consolidation strategy for the rural post office infrastructure.
Under the deal, a postmaster can opt for a voluntary closure of their operation and it is anticipated that uptake will result in up to two hundred of rural closures across the country. The services most affected are those deemed unviable for re-contracting however, if the Post Master declines the offer to exit, their service will continue under the terms of the old contract.
“I would like to see a succession strategy or plan which would provide for three to five year contracting with the Dept of Social Protection for the payment of State Benefits, along with a timeline for the exit of existing services and re-contracting of new operators," Nolan said.
"There must be an incentive for new entrants to be assured of a baseline income and, as Social Welfare payments account for approximately 40% of Post Office income, a three to five year contract would offer a safety net to those taking over.”
Nolan further stated that, “it’s important also that local people make a conscious decision to do business at their Local Post Office by continuing to collect payments there or purchasing other goods and services on offer.”
An Post will be offering new contracts to approximately 690 Post Offices which it considers to be an ‘integral part of the network’.
Under this investment plan a range of new government, financial and parcel services are proposed including Foreign Exchange; Motor Vehicle Taxation; Additional Bill Pay services and Parcel Lockers for online shopping deliveries.