Post offices would be paid some commission for facilitating the remote health system.
It comes after a report on the future of post offices published by businessman Bobby Kerr recommended immediate action be taken to tackle the serious challenges facing the network.
Mr Kerr’s report said the social contribution of post offices must be taken into account and the IPU have now put forward suggestions that postmasters could be paid to provide geology services, tourist information or could even liaise with pharmacists to provide prescription drops.
A working group to transform post offices into “social hubs” which would offer numerous community, financial and retail services was established last week and will work at implementing the proposals.
Mr O’Hara said immediate action has to be taken to protect post offices and to ensure they have a viable future. “Our view is we want business, we don’t want a subsidy, we are business people, we want to do business, we want to carry out transactions and be part of the community.”
The new working group which will meet again in September is made up of members of the IPU, An Post, the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Irish Rural Link and community groups.
Among the recommendations put forward in Mr Kerr’s report is an overhaul of outdated postmaster payments and contracts.
Minister of State for Regional Economic Development Michael Ring has signalled his commitment to keeping post offices alive and is pushing the “hub” idea.
“I believe that the roll-out of post office hubs could potentially be of considerable benefit to local communities and contribute greatly to rural rejuvenation.”
This article first appeared in the Irish Examiner.