Postmasters union decides not to run candidates in election

The Irish Postmasters’ Union has decided not to run its planned candidates in the upcoming general election.

Postmasters union decides not to run candidates in election

The group, which represents postmasters around the county, had previously announced candidates to contest constituencies including Geoff Boyle in Dublin West, Andrew Kelly in Dublin Central, and Seona O’Fegan in Galway West.

The candidates were to highlight the concerns of the post office network and local communities in general.

However, it is now pulling these candidates from the race after the publication of an An Post report written by businessman and Dragons’ Den star Bobby Kerr, which sets out a plan for the 1,300 branches.

At a meeting this week, postmasters decided they will instead now focus on implementing the recommendations in Mr Kerr’s report.

The report recommends extending the services post offices provide to include the selling of insurance, the processing of motor tax, and link-ups with credit unions.

The report allows for the immediate establishment of two working groups to implement the report’s findings, with postmasters part of both groups.

Union general secretary Ned O’Hara said: “After discussion and reflection among the executive committee, members and candidates, the Irish Postmasters’ Union has decided to place our immediate energy and focus into our role within the two working groups.

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“Government and An Post have both given their clear commitment to this process.”

The proposals will seek to tackle outdated postmaster payments and contracts and encourage branches to diversify.

A payment account system through the post office will also be introduced which will allow customers avail of banking services such as direct debits.

It is also suggested that post offices in isolated communities be supported financially to help them adapt and survive.

Mr Kerr will now stay on for another six months to work on implementing the proposals. The first meeting of the main working group, to develop a five-year strategy for the network, will take place this week.

This group will report back within the six months on a recommended future size and distribution of the network, the introduction of an e-payment account, the provision of additional services such as motor tax, securing social protection payments, and the renegotiation of postmasters’ contracts.

The second working group, to be chaired by Labour minister Ann Phelan, will oversee a pilot programme to develop rural post offices as local ‘service hubs’ and the group’s work will also begin this week.

Speaking at the launch of the report last week, Mr Kerr said : “If we want the services in remote areas then we need to put a value on the social contribution that they make.”

Irish Postmasters’ Union president Paddy McCann thanked the candidates for their courage, hard work, and commitment.

He said: “Each of the community and post office candidates are to congratulated and thanked for being an advocate for communities and for post offices.”

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