Postmasters fear for network viability without financial intervention
Minister Eamon Ryan said it is a “longstanding government policy” that postal services will not be directly subsidised by the government
23 March 2021
Following a decision by government to rule out a public service obligation subsidy to help sustain the Post Office network, postmasters have said they are facing severe financial difficulty.
The Irish Examiner reports that Communications Minister Eamon Ryan has said there are “no proposals” to introduce a government-funded subsidy.
However, Irish Postmasters’ Union general secretary Ned O’Hara said a government financial intervention must be in place by June to keep post offices open and to retain local banking in communities.
“The question is who will provide financial services to communities, such as those where Bank of Ireland branches are to close, if post offices do not get government support in time?” O’Hara asked.
Previously, a report commissioned from business advisers Grant Thornton, and published last September, cautioned that ‘unrestrained post office closures’ could occur after June 2021. Grant Thorton’s analysis recommended an annual public service obligation of €17m, which it described as value for money for the State.
However, Minister Ryan said it is a “longstanding government policy” that postal services will not be directly subsidised by the government, in response to a parliamentary question from Fianna Fáil’s Cathal Crowe, Nevertheless, he added that the government remains fully committed to a sustainable post office network as a key component of the economic and social infrastructure in both rural and urban areas.
At a recent Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications Networks, the Irish Postmasters’ Union highlighted the difficulties facing the Post Office network. It recommended “that an annual government retainer payment be put in place from this summer with a commitment among all parties — government, An Post and postmasters — to expand the range of services provided as much as possible and urgently,” according to Ned O’Hara.