The Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan TD, and the Minister of State with responsibility for Postal Matters, Hildegarde Naughton TD, today announced a funding package of €30m over a three-year fixed period to support a sustainable, nationwide post office network.
Ministers Ryan and Naughton brought a memo outlining the funding package to Cabinet yesterday (Tuesday, 31st May). Through this measure, the Government recognises the importance of a high-value and high-quality Post Office network to citizens throughout Ireland, as well as the central and trusted role of postmasters in our communities.
Speaking from the post office in Stillorgan, Dublin, where details of the scheme were announced, Minister Hildegarde Naughton, who has special responsibility for Postal Matters, said: “Post offices are a vital part of our community; a fact clearly evident in the monthly footfall of over one million visitors to post offices. Post offices play a central role to both society as a whole and to Government through the provision of high-quality public services in towns, villages and cities right across the country. I am confident that this €30 million multi annual scheme, amounting to €10 million each year for three years, will protect our post office network and will ensure that families and businesses nationwide can continue to access services from within their own communities.
“Today’s announcement is a first-time move in the history of Government, where we are now providing direct financial support to postmasters who operate much of our network. It would be remiss of me not to take this opportunity to commend the work of postmasters and post office workers throughout what were incredibly challenging times during the height of Covid-19; indeed, they have brought a whole new meaning to the term public service.”
Concluding, Minister Naughton said: “A modernised post office network will provide a better and wider range of community banking and e-commerce services – for citizens and businesses. Through this measure we are underlining our commitment to a sustainable, nationwide post office network. The duration of the support package – a three-year period – will provide certainty for postmasters and the public, enabling new commercial initiatives and services to be developed. Our aim is to protect and nurture a sustainable and commercially focussed post office network.”
Commenting on the measure, Minister Ryan said: “The post office has a central role in the social fabric of this country, in urban communities, and particularly in rural Ireland. This package will provide a one-off intervention of €10 million a year over a three-year period (2023-2025 inclusive) – to support a sustainable post office network in line with our commitments in the Programme for Government. This measure will help to ensure that people can continue to have access to important services through the post office network. It also underpins the Government’s commitment to a network that is sufficient in scale and capacity for people to be able to access these services, no matter where they live.”
Fianna Fáil TD for Clare Cathal Crowe has welcomed the news saying: “Today’s funding announcement will come as a major, major relief to the postmasters and mistresses of Clare who have been pleading for more to be done to ensure their survival.”
“The €30m announced today, which will be issued in €10m allocations over a period of three years, will help offset some of those concerns. However, it must be noted that it still falls short of the €12m sought by the post office network.
“I would also like to see further clarity in terms of what additional services and transactions will be issued to the post office network, as this is a sure-fire way of securing a viable future for the network. “This afternoon, the Oireachtas Communications Committee will meet with Minister Naughton and I intend to pose these questions to her.
Having spoken with postmasters and mistresses around the county, I know that they are grateful for the €30m that has been allocated to them but their concerns are not all gone and this is a campaign that has not yet come to an end,” Deputy Crowe added.
An Post provides important services to its customers and key Government services to citizens. The Government is committed to working with An Post and postmasters to ensure that the network continues to play a strong role in delivering State services.
The measure announced today will support the existing network of approximately 900 post offices. In particular, the aim is to safeguard the most vulnerable post offices – to protect access to services across the country.
Funding will be disbursed, to ensure a balance between providing vital financial support and certainty, while at the same time maintaining a commercial focus. Monies will be distributed between a fixed/guaranteed element and a variable, performance-based element, which will be determined following consultation between An Post and the IPU (Irish Postmasters Union) and approved by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. Exact details relating to the disbursal of funds will be released in due course, subsequent to these consultations.