Officials ‘peddling untruths’ over new postcode

Senior civil servants have been accused of “peddling falsehoods” to an Oireachtas committee in order to promote the controversial design of the nation’s new postcode.

Officials ‘peddling untruths’ over new postcode

The Freight Transport Association of Ireland has this week written to Communications Minister Alex White accusing him of “ignoring” stakeholders who have expressed concern about Eircode, which is due to be launched this summer.

FTAI members including DHL, FedEX, and UPS have all told the committee they will not use the randomised postcode, and that they favour a structured design as used in Britain.

The letter is the latest in a series of correspondences from the FTAI relating to an appearance by Department of Communications officials before the joint Oireachtas committee on transport and communications (JCTC) last November.

“Your officials have read into the JCTC record, or put in print, assertions which are either grossly misleading, or demonstrably untrue,” the letter to Mr White reads.

“To date, your officials have overseen the peddling of a catalogue of falsehoods, calculated to undermine structured postcodes and promote a ‘random’ postcode,” Neil McDonnell, FTAI general manager, wrote.

The FTAI had written to the clerk of the JCTC to address a number of concerns it had arising from submissions to the committee by department officials Eamonn Molloy and Patricia Cronin.

Last month the department responded by telling the committee clerk it “is satisfied that the statements given to the joint committee at the briefing on the 19th November 2014 and in the letter to you on the 16 March 2015 are accurate”.

While most of their differences centre on technical aspects of Eircode, the FTAI also maintains that its members were not consulted on the structure of the postcode, contrary to what the committee was told.

“On the logistical side, we had reasonably frequent contact with the various companies involved, including significant players in the FTAI,” Mr Molloy told the committee last November.

“We also dealt with significant delivery operators which were not part of the FTAI, some of whom had made their opinions known to the committee. In fairness, regardless of what one could say about where the project stands, it is not due to a lack of consultation.”

Furthermore, Ms Cronin wrote to the committee clerk in March, claiming that Capita, the company behind Eircode’s rollout, “have met with the FTAI on numerous occasions in order to explain the rationale and benefits of the design adopted”.

The FTAI maintains that its members were last consulted in 2006, years before Eircode’s design was revealed, and that Capita subsequently met with its members after the design had already been decided on. Mr McDonnell also said the only meetings he had with a Capita official were on a radio broadcast and at a panel discussion on Eircode.

The FTAI is the second group to write to the minister to take issue with the department officials’ submission to the Oireachtas committee.

Digital Rights Ireland also wrote to Mr White, claiming that comments made by Ms Cronin imply that the group is satisfied with Eircode.

“We want to state clearly that we are not at all ‘satisfied’ with the postcode that has been designed or the implementation proposals,” the group wrote.

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