I propose to take Questions Nos. 222, 223 and 238 together.
My officials and I have met with representatives of the Irish Postmasters Union (IPU) to discuss matters relating to the post office network in general including the Offline Services Report.
An Post has been proactive in taking steps in recent years to diversify its offering through:
- An expansion of financial services products with the launch of the An Post Money brand and introduction of an An Post Current Account, Credit Cards Loans and growing foreign exchange business.
- An expansion of e-commerce services, with particular focus on the SME market, available across the counter in the Post Offices to facilitate the growth in parcel business.
- Facilitating growth in existing retail lines – Gift Cards, Lottery, Billpay services, Money Transfer and
- The introduction of new green based initiatives such as the Green Hub home refurbishment.
As part of its commercial strategy to increase banking services An Post recently announced a new partnership with Bank of Ireland to offer personal and SME withdrawal and lodgement services to Bank of Ireland customers across the An Post network of over 900 post offices nationwide. This builds on the agency banking services An Post already provides for a number of other leading banks including AIB and Ulster Bank with more than 4.5 million transactions and a cash value of almost €1.5bn annually.
The Government believes An Post has untapped potential to do more and make a further significant contribution across many areas of public, business and community life in Ireland. In that regard, Government recently approved the Report on the Provision of Offline Government Services and the establishment of an Inter-Departmental Group, co-chaired by the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, to, inter alia, examine the feasibility of directing more Government business to the post office network. The Group will report back to Government by the end of July.