Members of the Irish Postmasters’ Union (IPU) claim there is no commitment by the Government to use the network and promises to deliver services such as motor tax through post offices have not been progressed.
“This compounds the removal of Department of Social Protection cheque payments from the post office network earlier this year and the insistence by some government departments that payments due to them from members of the public, are made by banker’s drafts rather than using post office services,” a spokesman said.
IPU general secretary Ned O’Hara said the union, along with the Government and An Post, had been involved in the Bobby Kerr-chaired post office network renewal working group since early this year.
“This group was mandated to report by mid-summer with a blueprint — including policy, services and investment commitments — for the future of post offices,” said the spokesman. “However, postmasters are now highly dissatisfied with the progress being made and remain to be convinced that the process will provide the level of response required.”
Mr O’Hara said: “We have run well past the agreed deadline and as it stands we have few details of figures, numbers or commitments which may emerge.
“We really do not know what this working group will deliver for the network, without Government support. Meaningful action on post offices is urgent as many offices are at breaking point.
“Postmasters are very frustrated and want to fully consider all options, as a continuance of the current situation will result in a breakdown of the process.”
He said postmasters are also involved in a second working group, chaired by minister of state for regional economic development Michael Ring, which is looking to develop “community hub” post offices which provide an extended range of citizen services for people living in isolated rural areas.
This group was announced last spring and was due to have pilots in place this year, but has only met once to date, he said.
The IPU represents more than 1,000 postmasters who operate the vast majority of Ireland’s 1,100 post offices.