Wednesday, 21 October 2009
Proposed Postcodes: Statements
Paddy Burke (Fine Gael)
I welcome this opportunity to say a few words on postcodes. I welcome the Minister, Deputy Eamon Ryan, who was here earlier, as well as the Minister of State, Deputy Áine Brady. I would have liked the Minister to outline how this system would work in practice. Senator Boyle outlined how he thinks it would work, whereby a number of houses could be grouped together. I presume, however, that the new postcodes arrangement would not do away with the use of county addresses. I hope we will still have a county identity, although we would also have numbers. The counties that are dear to our hearts should not disappear from postal addresses.
I like Senator O'Reilly's idea about using the GPS system, which is probably the way forward for postcodes. Postcodes have been on the agenda for a long time. I hope we can include the GPS system before the new system is brought to fruition. No matter where one is in the world, one can use a GPS system in a car or briefcase to reach one's exact destination. The GPS system would be a revelation. The potential problem for the use of GPS is townlands in some areas appear in Irish on maps and in English elsewhere and vice versa and, in some cases, the system might not recognise the location and one could find oneself in a different part of the country if one took full heed of the directions. However, in London and cities on the Continent where the GPS system used by drivers is based on postcodes, it is absolutely marvellous. The Minister stated the introduction of postcodes would lead to a more efficient society, business sector, communications system and postal service. The GPS system would be revolutionary in this regard, particularly where there is a turnover of staff in a post office and the new postman is not familiar with the area or for courier operators who make deliveries throughout the country. They would not have make inquiries on the side of the road about where a person or a firm was located.
It is most difficult to establish where one is on industrial estates throughout the State and particularly in Dublin. It is almost an impossibility in some cases and while a small signpost on a pavement or map on a noticeboard at the front of the industrial estate sometimes gives the location of various companies, it is still a nightmare to find them. The use of postcodes in a GPS system would be revelatory, particularly for couriers because they find it most difficult and frustrating to reach their delivery address.
The Minister outlined his proposal in detail and it is welcome. The set-up cost will be €15 million and the ongoing maintenance cost is estimated at €2.5 million annually. Since such investment is taking place, how much more would it cost to put the navigational system proposed by Senator O'Reilly in place or to couple it what the introduction of postcodes? It would be beneficial for the emergency services. It is critical that the staff of the ambulance service, the fire service and the Garda should arrive at a destination on time to carry out their duties. On the Continent, if an ambulance does not arrive at an address within 15 minutes to collect a patient, an investigation is carried out whereas it is difficult sometimes for ambulance crews in Ireland to find an address.
Senator O'Reilly's proposal deserves examination and it is credible, particularly as it may not cost much more on top of the Minister's proposal, which is welcome. I appeal to him, in light of Senator O'Reilly's contribution, to seriously examine our proposal.