The allocation of €30m in once off-funding over three years to the post office network is welcome but ignores the need for a long-term sustainability strategy that is key for postmasters/mistresses to decide if they will continue to keep the doors open, says Denis Naughten TD.
“As the architect behind the strategic plan to save An Post and its network in 2017, I believe it is imperative that Government fulfils its part of that plan, which is to provide for more transactions through the post office network,” stated Denis Naughten.
“This need for new Government business is vital not just to the survival of the existing post offices but to the retention of a post office in the local community when the postmaster/mistress retires.
“We already have had instances where there is nobody willing to take on the business of a closing post office because of the lack of a sustainable commercial model. Government is key to addressing this through the transfer of offline routes for services such as motor tax, identification verification, driving licences etc to this vital network.
“It seems surprising to me that €30m could be secured by Ministers Naughton & Ryan without conditions, in advance of the imminent report on putting new Government business through the post office network, unless the decision has already been taken to abandon such an approach for new business.
“So, while short term funding of €30m is welcome, unless the report from the Inter-Departmental Group, which was established to examine the feasibility of additional Government services being provided through An Post and the post office network, does not commit to putting new business into the network then today’s announcement is just kicking the can down the road.
“Prior to when I was appointed as Communications Minister, Government after Government had previously just kicked the can down the road, which led to the near financial collapse of An Post and this cannot be allowed to be repeated now,” concluded Denis Naughten.