Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Postal Delays.

Seamus Brennan

Question:

11 Mr. S. Brennan asked the Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications the views, if any, he has on the serious postal delays being experienced by residents and business; the action, if any he proposes to take in this matter. [9031/95]

Ivor Callely

Question:

18 Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications the measures, if any, that need to be taken to ensure a return to the traditional early morning Dublin domestic delivery of post; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8900/95]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 11 and 18 together.

As soon as it became apparent to me that the difficulties in relation to postal deliveries were not being rectified quickly enough I emphasised to the chairman and the chief executive of An Post the priority I attached to improving the delivery times of mail, particularly to business customers in the Dublin area.

Since then An Post has concluded an agreement with the Communications Workers Union on the introduction of operational changes to improve the quality of service. The changes provide for an overall improvement in the next day delivery service, revised weekend arrangements to reduce delays in deliveries on Mondays when mail volumes increase and the introduction of part-time delivery staff for business areas to achieve earlier delivery times. Implementation of the changes has already commenced and will extend to all areas involved over the coming weeks.

I am assured by the chairman and the chief executive that these changes will quickly bring about the necessary improvements in the quality of delivery services and help to restore public confidence in An Post. I have requested officials in my Department to clearly monitor the position in the coming weeks to ensure that these unacceptable delays are eliminated through the strategy adopted by An Post.

I thank the Minister for admitting that the situation in An Post is unsatisfactory. He has included An Post in his criticism of semi-State companies such as Aer Lingus, etc. However, that is a debate for another day. Is he aware that the delivery service in Dublin is the subject of widespread criticism, that approximately 50 per cent of post in Dublin is not delivered before 10 a.m. and that it can take three or four days for correspondence to be received from Northern Ireland? Recently a letter containing a large cheque for a UK supplier which was posted in Santry ended up in Dublin 15 days later. I have dozens of other examples. Will the Minister confirm that his policy for An Post is in shreds and that firm action needs to be taken with the board of the company? As is his wont, perhaps he should call in the chairman and issue a few threats in this regard.

Obviously the Deputy is confused. He began by accusing me of being unhelpful and unfair to An Post and the semi-State sector in general. He then proceeded to make comments which have vindicated and justified the point I made in my reply, which is that I am concerned about the undue and unacceptable postal delays. Unlike the Deputy when in office, I have taken decisive action——

I read the interview.

Let us hear the Minister's reply without interruption, please.

——and discussed this issue with the chairman and chief executive and asked that it be made a priority. Action has been taken in response to my initiative. I have outlined this course of action which I am confident will lead to improved delivery times for businesses and households in the Dublin area. That is my request and I intend to ensure that it is implemented.

When will we see an improvement?

It has already commenced in a number of areas in Dublin and it will be extended to other areas in this region in the coming weeks. I hope that in the not too distant future people in the Dublin region will be satisfied with the quality of service they receive from An Post.

Is the Minister contemplating any personnel changes at the top level in An Post?

I am satisfied that the chairman and chief executive of An Post are responsive to the needs of the Minister and the Government and are prepared to respond to requests made by me as Minister. The Deputy must appreciate that An Post has come through an extensive and complex rationalisation and modernisation programme which required sensitive issues to be addressed by the unions in particular. They have received a tremendous level of co-operation and I am anxious to eliminate any teething problems at the earliest opportunity.