Thursday, 20 January 2011
Communications Regulation (Postal Services) Bill 2010 [Seanad]: Second Stage (Resumed)
Mary O'Rourke (Longford-Westmeath, Fianna Fail)
That is excellent. I recall the great chief of An Post, Mr. John Hynes, telling me when I was Minister with responsibility for the postal service that the rate was over 90%. Something in my head always told me it was not. It was probably the nice thing to say to the Minister as it would keep her quiet for a while.
There is still a great degree of certainty that if one posts a letter in Dublin, as I had to do today to a constituent in Castletown-Finea, County Westmeath, it will be received tomorrow morning. It is powerful that a letter from the capital can still be delivered to the heart of rural Westmeath personally, cheerfully and with one-to-one interaction.
The Minister knows An Post union members are concerned that the universal service obligation will go the same way as those in other countries that liberalised their postal services. Will the Minister publish an itemised table of those EU member states which have liberalised or are in the process of liberalising their services and the number of job losses in their respective companies? An Post workers' unions have informed us that they are determined there should be no job losses. They claim the job losses in other countries have been horrendous with a decline in services and standards.
I must admit I like the new uniforms for An Post workers. I saw their show of them with the new Bermudas and lengths. In Athlone they have not started to wear them yet, however. I assume they are waiting for this legislation to be passed. My main concern is that after the seven year introductory time passes, it will be decided that Valentia Island, for example as I go there on my holidays, will get its delivery only every second or third day. Will there be a decline in delivery times in isolated rural areas?
While I accept we cannot keep technological advances in communication at bay - like King Canute keeping back the waves - I do not want to see a watering down of the universal service obligation that ensures a modern, sophisticated and useful postal service making daily deliveries. I assume every other member state has its equivalent of ComReg funding the maintenance of the universal service obligation.
Will post codes be rolled out across the country?