An Post admits ‘very low’ usage of €38m Eircode

An Post has told an Oireachtas committee that Eircode usage remains “very low”, with less than 5% of all mail it handles using the €38m postcode — more than two years after it launched.

The revelation comes as An Post denies an allegation that it misled the Oireachtas committee on Communications about its planned use of Eircode.

Gary Delaney, who unsuccessfully bid for the contract to develop Ireland’s postcode, wrote to Communications Minister Denis Naughten to allege that an official at An Post misled the committee in November 2014, eight months before Eircode’s launch.

Mr Delaney said An Post does not use Eircode in its manual sorting operations, which he claims is contrary to what Liam O’Sullivan, Mails Operations Director at An Post had told the committee.

An Post sorts mail nationally via an automated sorting system at four mail centres in Dublin, Cork, Portlaoise, and Athlone, before the post is then sent to local routes around the country for manual sorting.

Responding to Mr Delaney’s claim, An Post confirmed it only uses Eircode at its automated sorting system in the four main mail centres, and not at its manual sorting level.

Mr O’Sullivan had told the committee in 2014 that an Post “will use the code in our automated sortation systems and manual systems throughout the network.”

“We will definitely be using every element of the Eircode system in sorting letters, packages and parcels. Whether we sort them using machinery or by hand, we will definitely be using the Eircode system,” Mr O’Sullivan told the Committee at the time.

In recent correspondence to the clerk to the Communications committee, which has been seen by the Irish Examiner, Brian Fay, company secretary at An Post, rejected the allegation that Mr O’Sullivan misled the committee.

“An Post has always taken its appearances at Oireachtas Committees very seriously,” he wrote. “There is no inconsistency in the evidence given by An Post to representatives and at no time has An Post mis-led the Committees. It is very disappointing that an accusation that An Post mis-led an Oireachtas Committee would be made.”

Mr Fay said that, between 2014 and 2015, An Post spent €500,000 on an upgrade that enabled its automated system to use Eircode.

However, he also confirmed that An Post’s manual sortation system does not use the postcode.

“A plan for the manual sortation systems was also fully developed prior to the launch of Eircode including sortation plans and fittings,” Mr Fay wrote. “The implementation of this plan will occur when the take up of Eircode reaches a critical mass.

“As we know, Eircode usage remains very low (5%). While the automated system reads addresses either with or without an Eircode, An Post cannot use two systems in its manual sortation plans as that would not make any operational sense.”

Mr Fay said the manual system would use Eircode when its use is “sufficiently high”.

“It can only use one system and it makes absolute sense to use the existing system in its manual sortation operations until a critical mass in usage of Eircode is achieved,” he said.

“Therefore, there is no inconsistency in the evidence presented at the Committee meetings. We simply cannot have known what the uptake of Eircodes would be, particularly given that An Post is not responsible for ensuring uptake.”

A spokesperson for An Post told the Irish Examiner that there is no specific usage target in mind at which point the service will decide to implement Eircode at a local level.

“Critical mass in this case is a level at which An Post decides that in the interest of greater efficiencies we should initiate the use of eircode in manual sortation of mail,” the spokesperson said.

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