Communications Minister Eamon Ryan came under fire today for pressing ahead with the introduction of a €15m postcode plan when public spending was being cut.
Labour Party’s Liz McManus called for the new system to be delayed until the critical financial situation eases.
She said the Government must clarify how the plan – which Mr Ryan estimates will cost up to €15m to allocate a code to every house and feed the data into a computer system – will be funded.
Ms McManus said while she supports the move, it is hard to justify when there are severe cutbacks in public spending.
“Estimates have ranged from the Minister’s figure of €15m to industry experts quoting a figure of €25m,” said Ms McManus, party spokesperson on communications.
“At a time when there is no money in the kitty for the potentially life-saving €10m cervical cancer vaccine, questions have to be raised as to why we are going ahead with this scheme?”
The Department of Communications said a report from PA Consulting put the monetary benefits of postcodes to the state at €22m in the medium term.
Mr Ryan said a postal code system will also bring a number of benefits including faster and more accurate postal delivery.
It is expected to be in use by early 2011.
“A postal code system represents an excellent investment for any modern country and is essential for the development of the digital economy,” said Mr Ryan.
However Ms McManus argued that the decision of An Post to suspend all weekend collection of mail is more deserving of Mr Ryan’s attention.
“There is also a concern that the introduction of postcodes will increase the use of junk mail and will result in more sophisticated targeting of junk mail to particular income groups,” she added.
“In my view, the postponement of postcodes would be justified until our critical financial situation eases.”