POSTMASTERS are justifiably worried about the future of the post office network because there is no sign of any commitment from government so far to tackle it and they are also frustrated that two working groups have not come back with recommendations to try to secure the future of the network. Last weekend, they called an emergency meeting to decide on a course of action to secure the future of the post office network, as they feel the government’s inaction is failing both them and the communities they serve.
Unfortunately, people tend to take their local post offices for granted and are under the illusion they will always be there no matter what. Sadly, as we have seen in recent years, this is not the reality and, while the rate of closures has slowed to a trickle, the threat is always there – which is why the network needs to be made more fit for purpose for today’s world.
A lot more people are opting for electronic transfer of various government payments heretofore dispensed through post offices, but that is just the way of the modern world, especially as more people become computer-literate. While the government may not owe the postmasters a living, it has a duty to ensure that the communities they serve have a service that it viable and sustainable, especially for rural areas where the post office also has a greater social role.
The Irish Postmasters Union (IPU) is disappointed that one working group, chaired by Michael Ring, the Minister of State for Regional Economic Development, to look into the development of ‘Community Hub’ post offices to provide an extended range of citizen services for people living in isolated rural areas has only met once since its formation earlier this year.
They are also angry at the delay with the publication of the report by the more high-profile Network Renewal Working Group, chaired by Bobby Kerr, which was due to be published by mid-summer, setting out a blueprint – including policy, services and investment commitments – for the future reinvention of the role of post offices.