Irish postal codes considered

The Irish Republic may introduced postal codes for the first time following blunders that led to the late delivery of as many as 1.5 million Christmas card and other mail earlier this week.

The possibility emerged after an inquest into the seasonal post hold-ups today by the Irish government`s Communications Minister, Dermot Ahern.

He called in John Hynes, the head of Ireland`s An Post postal company, to provide him with a first-hand explanation about the late cards.

The company – which has apologised to their customers – blamed a number of factors for the mail problems, including the recent introduction of a new automatic sorting system reported to have encountered problems with some of the more unusually shaped and coloured Christmas card envelopes.

Late posting, cost-cutting and staff reductions were also said to have been partly responsible.

Mr Ahern said: “Mr Hynes has assured me this will not happen again – particularly next Christmas.

“There are proposals floating around about this country having postal codes – we are one of the few European countries that does not.

“Sometimes, the addresses that are put on envelopes are not particularly informative, and that causes a problem. Postal codes are an issue for the regulator in this area.“

Mr Hynes said major internal change had been introduced by his company, and admitted: “We did stumble towards the end of the year. We are pretty disappointed.“

Mr Ahern`s comments followed a move by the Irish telecoms regulator`s office last month to extend the deadline for submissions to a consultation process on the postal codes issue.

The regulator`s office said: “Whether Ireland should introduce a postcode system in the same way as every other country in Europe except Greece is up for decision.

“The use of a unique postcode can help to reduce confusion and can also speed up the sorting process. The Universal Postal Union describes the postcode as the fundamental, essential element of an address.

“While An Post do not currently see the need for such a system there are many other players in the postal sector and wider who say they would like to see Ireland using the same system as most other countries.

Chairman Etain Doyle added: `We need to assess the advantages and disadvantages, the costs and the merits. But to do this we need to hear the concerns of the public.`

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