‘Unprecedented’ €30 million package aims to give postmasters certainty

This is the first time an Irish Government has agreed to State intervention that provides direct financial support for postmasters.
‘Unprecedented’ €30 million package aims to give postmasters certainty

By Gráinne Ní Aodha, PA

A “one-off” Government funding package for the post office network worth 30 million euro over three years was announced on Wednesday.

The minister of state with responsibility for the sector hailed the “hard-fought for” package and appealed to the public to use their post office more often.

This is the first time an Irish Government has provided direct financial support for postmasters.

Postmasters are independent business owners contracted by An Post, to run an estimated 900 post offices across Ireland. Most post offices are operated by independent postmasters.

A grant will be given from the State to the postmasters through An Post, and will be distributed by targeting postmasters in most need of financial help.

Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan, and Minister of State with responsibility for postal matters, Hildegarde Naughton, brought a memo to Cabinet on Tuesday outlining the details of the package, which was then approved.

Speaking from Stillorgan post office in Co Dublin on Wednesday, where details of the scheme were announced, Minister Naughton said she was “confident” that the package “will protect our post office network and will ensure that families and businesses nationwide can continue to access services from within their own communities”.

Addressing the Oireachtas Transport Committee on Wednesday evening, Ms Naughton said that rather than hoping the package would prevent post offices from closing, the Government hoped that the package would “decelerate” the closure of postal offices.

“Anyone who wants to retire, for personal reasons … that will be their decision. But if somebody then wants to take up that role as postmaster, it will be advertised again.

“We’re all very aware when somebody retired, but when it’s advertised again, the pick-up isn’t there because it’s not viable.

“What this unprecedented package does is it now gives postmasters certainty,” she told the committee.

Ms Naughton said the public should try to use their post office more.

“There is an obligation as well, and people value the post office, but they need to use it as well.

“This is what this funding is doing, it’s giving that timeline, that breather for post offices to be able to drive new business. This funding, as well, will be an incentive for postmasters.”

She added: “This is the first time in the history of the state that we’ve had state intervention in the post office network.”

The funding package will come into effect from 1 January 2023. An 8.5 million euro pandemic relief fund for post offices was announced by An Post in June 2021,and will run until December 2022.

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