We welcome the recent establishment of the Post Office Development Group under the chairmanship of Bobby Kerr, and we look forward to its findings. Post Offices play and important economic and social role in Irish communities, and this should be recognised. Recent years have seen the closure of small shops, schools, Garda stations and other community focus points. We believe the Group will identify further opportunities for the Post Office Network and therefore we request the Minister to instruct An Post to suspend post office closures until the report of this group has been published and considered.

Post Offices are at the heart of the community. If an Office closes, this is very often followed by other local business closures and the whole community looses out.
This group must take a wide view to support communities by ensuring certainty for the future of Post Offices.
• Post Offices are the largest retail network in the country with 1,150 Offices, employing 3,700 people.
• Around 1,100 of these Offices are operated by Postmasters who are locally based SMEs providing employment, facilitating economic activity and providing community engagement
• A world class IT system is in place in all Offices, with the smallest rural Offices technically capable of providing the same services as the GPO in Dublin.
• Post Offices serve 1.7m customers every week

Many people do not realise the ever-increasing range of services available through the Post Office. In addition to the standard Postal Services the following services are available
• Department of Social Protection Payments;
• Passport Express;
• NTMA savings;
• Banking Services; and
• A range of Bill Payment Services including Property and Water Tax payments.

There is strong support for keeping Post Offices at the heart of the community and Postmasters want to work with Government, financial service providers and the community at large to provide the products and services that will make this happen.

Summary Solutions:
• Recognise the Post Office Network as a National asset and ensure its future by making it the provider of choice and the front office for all Government services e.g. Motor Tax, Hospital Charges, Local Authority Payments etc.
• Secure the role of Post Offices in delivering all Department of Social Protection (DSP) payments either through cash and/or direct electronic payment.
• Recognise the important social role which Post Offices provide.
• Promote public support for the local Post Office through regular use of the services currently on offer there.
• Suspend closure of Post Offices until the report of the Post Office Development Group has been issued and adequately considered.