Belfast Telegraph

Postmasters call for their stores to become one-stop-shops for state services

Postmasters have called on the Government to protect the network by turning their stores into community hubs and one-stop-shops for state services.

The ambitious campaign aims to turn post offices into the go-to place for internet access, remote health checks with hospitals and GPs, prescription drop-off and local transport and tourist points.

With long-running concerns over the viability of the network, Ned O'Hara, general secretary of the Irish Postmasters' Union (IPU) said there is a major opportunity to transform citizens' access to services.

"We want to have a 'no wrong door' policy with all deliverable Government services provided in all Post Offices across the country," he said.

"Our vision for our citizens and communities is simple, we want to be the state on your doorstep."

Mr O'Hara also called for postmasters to be made peace commissioners automatically, an honorary position which would give them the authority to verify signatures on state documents.

And he said post offices should also be the payment point for all fines including traffic and parking offences or court imposed penalties, and they should also be able to take applications for all State licences including driving and gun licences.

The IPU claimed the state could save 65 million euro over five years by processing motor tax through post offices.

Postmasters have been warning for months about the future of the network due to the reduction in the amount of welfare payments in post offices.

They say the social protection transactions account for about 35% of all their business and estimate that it is 50% when spin-off sales are taken into account.

The IPU urged the Government to create a standard An Post bank account and also to allow post offices to carry out traditional counter transactions for all of the commercial banks.

President Paddy McCann said: "We are calling on Government to recognise the national asset it has in the post office network and to allocate investment in the October 11 budget to enable major renewal and transformation of the network which brings the citizen and Government closer together."

The IPU is currently in discussions with An Post and the Government on a five-year plan.


From Belfast Telegraph