The Irish Postmasters Union wants all political groups and candidates to “ensure that the Irish post-office network has a strong economic and social future, irrespective of who forms the next government”.
IPU general secretary Ned O’Hara said the future of the network was a “social and community issue”, not a party political one.
Postmasters said the two working groups — network renewal and service hubs — established on foot of the Bobby Kerr-chaired Post Office Network Business Development Group report, published last month, must continue “with urgency”.
The network renewal working group has been established to develop a five-year strategy. Chaired by Mr Kerr, it includes the IPU, Departments of Communications and Social Protection, and An Post. The group is overseen by the communications minister and is due to report by July 2016.
The parallel working group, aimed at developing a nationwide pilot of post- office service hubs is looking at the use of the hubs to extend citizen access to rural post offices by facilitating additional services such as transport and health.
The group is to be chaired by Ann Phelan, the junior minister responsible for rural economic development, and includes postmasters, relevant government departments, and An Post. It aims to have pilots in place this year.
IPU president Paddy McCann said: “The next government, whoever it may be, must be committed to the network as the provider of choice for social protection payments, new business at post offices (particularly motor tax), roll out a post- office-based e-payments account, and new postmaster contracts.”