A media report yesterday claimed businessman Bobby Kerr’s as yet unpublished assessment for the Government of the future of post offices recommends up to 80 should close. The report also claimed An Post is seeking a State bailout of up to €58m rather than closing large numbers of post offices.
An Post itself said that the figures in the report did not come from it as it is “currently completing the first detailed, in-depth review of the post office network for many years”.
A spokeswoman said: “This review will take into account shifting demographics, the changing marketplace for services and the economics for postmasters. No decisions have been made while this review is ongoing. An Post’s intention is to produce a plan for a commercially viable and self-funded network which will meet the needs of citizens across the State. We expect the work to be completed within the next couple of months.”
It is understood that the company has never said it was looking for a bailout.
Ned O’Hara, general secretary of the Irish Postmasters Union, said postmasters just want certainty.
“Bobby Kerr has put forward a comprehensive plan which isn’t just closures, but says an additional number of services would be provided both Government and financial,” he said.
“There would be new social services provided, appropriate investment and people would know where they stand for the next four or five years. And in four or five years, somebody would produce the same comprehensive plan for the next four or five years so that people can make their plan — the communities we serve and the postmasters themselves — rather than live in this uncertainty.”
“If that requires 80 post offices — and we haven’t agreed to any post office closures — if a review of the network says we don’t need a post office here, we need a post office there, ultimately, in our view, the community decides where post offices are required. If that is what is required, that is what is required.
“We are realistic enough to realise that. We want certainty, we want a plan, we don’t want ‘ad hockery’.”
He said the talks process between postmasters, An Post and Government have gone into “slow motion”.
“This could be agreed in two days if people got into a room,” said Mr O’Hara. “We are prepared to get into room. Bobby Kerr made recommendations, we don’t agree with all of them, but the hurdles that remain are not insurmountable.
“I asked at the Dáil committee on January 17 that we would get into a room for two days with An Post and the Government. We would rather be talking about the new, innovative services that we can provide for the communities than ranting about trying to get someone to make a decision.”