Members of the Irish Postmasters Union today returned thousands of social protection forms, which they refused to distribute, to the Department.
Postmasters had refused to distribute the documents, which contain a paragraph encouraging the public to set up electronic bank transfers for their social welfare payments.
It said the document's recommendation is contributing to the closure of post offices, and that social welfare payments are a core Post Office function.
A number of forms have been made available "in keeping with [our] contractual duties", the Postmasters Union said.
“There is a view among Postmasters that, by recommending Social Protection payments through the banks, Government policy is in effect closing down the Post Office Network," said General Secretary Ned O’Hara.
"We just cannot understand how a Government Department can contradict the Programme for Government, which says there will be a vibrant post office in every community.
The Department … is diverting business away from those communities, and making them less vibrant by definition."
IPU President Paddy McCann said that Social Protection payments account for 30% of Post Offices business and its spin-off value is as high as 50%.
“Transferring the largest element of Post Office business to the banks will shut down the Network and remove a core piece of social infrastructure from communities across Ireland," he said.
“There is huge support in all constituencies for the development of Post Offices as hubs for the delivery of core State and commercial services.
"Many people want to use the Post Office and do not want to pay fees to the commercial banks."
The union said it now expects a revised version of the form to be issued shortly by the Department.