Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Questions (101)

Mick Wallace


101. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his views on the need to maintain a strong rural post office network; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9986/13]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

As the Deputy will appreciate An Post is a Commercial State body with its own Board and Management. Therefore operational matters are a matter for the Board and management of An Post. These are areas in which I have no statutory function.

As shareholder, however, I do have a strong concern in relation to the ongoing commercial position of the Company and I regularly liaise with the Company in this regard.

It is my strong objective that An Post remains a strong and viable State company, providing high quality services on a nationwide basis through a network of economically viable post offices. I know that this objective is shared on all sides of the House. I must, however, stress that the Company must be in a sustainable and viable financial position to ensure this. I would also remind Deputies that An Post is a Commercial State Company and their strategy and decision-making must be formulated in this context.

I firmly believe An Post has many strengths. It is a trusted brand and it also has the largest retail presence in the country. I have impressed on the Company the need to further exploit its unique position in this regard and have been supportive of its attempts to diversify its income streams and to win a wider range of commercial contracts offering higher margins.

I welcome the progress An Post has made towards diversification including the announcement that following the decision of AIB to close a number of branches, an extended range of AIB services is available through Post Offices in the locality of the closures. This is beneficial not only to An Post as a commercial body but also to the local communities.

I, and my Department, will maintain ongoing contact with the Board and Management of the Company to work with them on our shared objectives in light of the challenging environment which they face.