Funding package announced to save rural post offices in Ireland
The Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan, and the Minister of State with responsibility for Postal Matters, Hildegarde Naughton, today announced a funding package of €30 million over a 3-year fixed period to support a sustainable, nationwide post office network.
Ministers Ryan and Naughton brought a memo outlining the funding package to Cabinet yesterday. Through this measure, the government recognises the importance of a high-value and high-quality Post Office network to citizens throughout Ireland, as well as the central and trusted role of postmasters in our communities.
Speaking from the post office in Stillorgan, Dublin, where details of the scheme were announced, Minister Hildegarde Naughton, who has special responsibility for Postal Matters, said:
“Post offices are a vital part of our community; a fact clearly evident in the monthly footfall of over one million visitors to post offices. Post offices play a central role to both society as a whole and to Government through the provision of high-quality public services in towns, villages and cities right across the country. I am confident that this €30 million multi annual scheme, amounting to €10 million each year for three years, will protect our post office network and will ensure that families and businesses nationwide can continue to access services from within their own communities.
“Today’s announcement is a first-time move in the history of Government, where we are now providing direct financial support to postmasters who operate much of our network. It would be remiss of me not to take this opportunity to commend the work of postmasters and post office workers throughout what were incredibly challenging times during the height of COVID-19; indeed, they have brought a whole new meaning to the term public service.”
Concluding, Minister Naughton said:
“A modernised post office network will provide a better and wider range of community banking and e-commerce services – for citizens and businesses. Through this measure we are underlining our commitment to a sustainable, nationwide post office network. The duration of the support package – a 3-year period – will provide certainty for postmasters and the public, enabling new commercial initiatives and services to be developed. Our aim is to protect and nurture a sustainable and commercially focussed post office network.”
Commenting on the measure, Minister Ryan said:
“The post office has a central role in the social fabric of this country, in urban communities, and particularly in rural Ireland. This package will provide a one-off intervention of €10 million a year over a three-year period (2023-2025 inclusive) – to support a sustainable post office network in line with our commitments in the Programme for Government. This measure will help to ensure that people can continue to have access to important services through the post office network. It also underpins the government’s commitment to a network that is sufficient in scale and capacity for people to be able to access these services, no matter where they live.”
Debbie Byrne, MD of An Post Retail said “An Post welcomes today’s announcement of the time bound package of support for Postmasters to support a sustainable Post Office network in communities across the country. The pandemic has accelerated some of the headwinds facing the network. Today’s announcement creates space to accelerate the transformation and commercialisation of the network once again to ensure a relevant and commercially viable network delivering more services to citizens and small businesses.”