Post offices to offer more services after Govt invests €30m in network

Post Offices are to offer a wider range of services in an effort to keep their business viable.

The Government yesterday announced it is to invest €30m in the network to help keep rural offices open.

Talks will now take place on how best to secure the future of the network.

Communications Minister Denis Naughten says introducing new services will be key to the survival of the business.

He said: "Income has dropped significantly for some postmasters across the country, people are not using the post office at the moment, and we want to turn that around.

"There is the opportunity to bring in new banking and financial services into post offices, new parcel services and Government services such as motor tax can be available through the post office."

He said the loan was conditional on specific targets being met which would be examined in monthly updates.

An Post said it had a loss of €15.6m in 2016 and at this time last year, PWC forecast a loss of €61m in 2017 if no action were taken.

Irish Postmasters Union (IPU) bosses said the loan was welcome but called for the immediate implementation of reforms to modernise the organisation. General secretary Ned O’Hara said:

“What is important is that a significant portion of this money goes to protecting and securing the post office network and does not get consumed in addressing other problems faced by An Post.”

Fianna Fáil TD Timmy Dooley criticised the loan, saying that it was a glorified job-loss announcement.

“Let’s be under no illusion, the money announced today will be spent on redundancies in the postal delivery side of the business and on retirement packages for postmasters,” he said.

“The pensioning off of postmasters will leave vast swathes of rural Ireland without a post office. This announcement is a short-term fix to An Post’s financial difficulties, and doesn’t deal with the long-term challenges the post office network is facing.”

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