The post office network business development group, chaired by Mr. Bobby Kerr, was established at the end of 2014 to examine the potential for new and existing government business and commercial business that could be transacted through the post office network, and to identify new business opportunities for the network.
The final report of the group was published in January of this year and made a number of recommendations to support the future sustainability of the post office network, including network renewal. On foot of this report, a post office network renewal implementation group was established to progress the recommendations arising from the report of the business development group.
The post office network renewal implementation group is independent and is also chaired by Mr. Kerr and includes representatives of An Post and the Irish Postmasters Union, IPU. The group has been examining issues such as the number and spatial distribution of post offices, branch modernisation, the streamlining of products and services, postmaster payments and contracts, and training and qualifications for post office employees.
Some of the issues under consideration are quite complex in nature. Both the Minister and I have met Mr. Kerr and members of the implementation group on a number of occasions over the past few months. The implementation group is nearing the conclusion of its work and its recommendations will be issued to the board and management of An Post in the next few weeks. It will be a matter for An Post to consider these recommendations and to bring their proposals to the appropriate Ministers for discussion.
Separately, I established the post office hub working group in July this year to identify potential models under which the post offices could act as community hubs, especially in rural areas. The group has recently concluded its talks and is currently finalising its report. In addition, my officials are also examining the potential for the post office network to deliver other services including motor tax and financial services. I intend to report to Government on these issues in the coming weeks.