An Post has a ‘very strong commitment’ to rural Ireland – CEO

CEO of An Post David McRedmond has asserted that his company has a very strong commitment to rural Ireland, in spite of the 159 post offices set to close in coming months.

This follows confirmation from An Post yesterday of the closure of the offices arranged under the historic agreement concluded between An Post and the Irish Postmasters’ Union (IPU) in recent months.

Also Read: West bears the brunt of 159 post office closures

McRedmond was responding to Terry Keenan, chairman of the Forum Connemara, and vice chair of Irish Local development network, who described the closures as an attack on rural Ireland, adding that it will have a huge effect on local communities.

Speaking on RTE Radio 1’s Morning Ireland earlier today (Wednesday, August 29), the CEO said: “I appreciate that in many ways the post office is seen as a proxy in rural Ireland – but what we’re doing is the opposite of an attack on rural Ireland.

“Much of the issues in Ireland are blamed on a lack of planning, a lack of strategy; what we’re putting in place is a plan and a strategy to make sure that there’s an excellent post office service throughout Ireland and for all the years ahead – and that’s why we’re making the changes that we’re making now,” he said.

The CEO pointed out that the company had been due to make a loss of €80 million this year but has turned this around and now expects some growth.

We’ve reinvigorated all our services; we’re now addressing the issue of post offices which is so neglected and addressing that issue means having to make sure that post offices are viable.

“These are individual businesses run by postmasters and mistresses throughout the country.

‘Strong commitment’

“We’ve worked very closely with them and made a commitment which I don’t know of anywhere else that has made as strong a commitment to rural areas, anywhere else in Europe or anywhere else in the world, by saying that every community of over 500 people will have a post office. And it’s a very strong commitment.

“100 of the 159 post offices according to the national census, are in areas where there is ‘no settlement’.”

The CEO added that of the branches set to close, one or two only have 12 transactions a week, and on average they have 100 transactions a week.

“What we’re doing is making sure that post offices are located where people do their shopping. Having listened to that report, talking about having to go further to their shop; people have to do their shopping, let’s have the post office there, let’s make it a post office that offers a great range of services.

3.7% of people affected

“The percentage of people affected is 3.7%; 96% of people will have better post office services. The 3.7% of people we’d argue would also have better post office services but they will have to travel a bit further.

So actually we’ve done everything to make sure that rural communities in particular are well served.

The CEO said that there is no plan to close any other post offices, adding that the more vulnerable offices will be made more viable as a result of closures, while an increase of services will also help.

He added that the 159 closing offices are expected to shut their doors between now and the end of the year.

Five new post offices are set to open in counties Carlow, Cork, Louth, Meath and Sligo, McRedmond added.