Monday, 26 April 2021
Post Office Network: Motion
I thank the Minister of State for being here to discuss the motion. A strong post office network is something Fianna Fáil, as a party, has advocated for and supported for many years, and I am very glad to have this opportunity to echo my support for the post office network. I also want to take this opportunity to thank all of the workers in An Post who worked tirelessly to keep this country going while people remained at home, particularly through the first lockdown. Almost the only thing that was consistent and normal for everyone during the first lockdown was An Post when its vans and bicycles travelled around the country to towns, villages, highways and byways. Mr. John Grogan is my local postman and he is always a welcome visitor to my door. Unfortunately, for some people living in communities and for those who were isolated or cocooning, the postman or post woman provide the only opportunity of a chat in the day. That situation highlights to me that the postal service is not just about delivering post or being a business. It is a social network. Post offices are an integral part of the social and economic fabric of this nation, in both urban and rural settings, so I very much believe a PSO levy is important and necessary.The cost to the State is far outweighed by the social return for our communities.
This motion rightly calls on the Government to support the roll-out of new services to ensure the financial viability of the entire An Post network. Banking, the paying of bills and all the services that An Post already provides are fantastic but there are so many opportunities for them to be expanded. We need to be flexible and one idea would not suit every post office. We must think outside the box, expand our scope and work with the community on what supports and services work best for the community.
The programme for Government recognises that the modernised post office network will provide a better range of financial services, including e-commerce and services for citizens and enterprise as part of a commitment to a sustainable, nationwide post office network. There is a large need in this country for community banking and we must advocate for it. All across the House today the idea has been echoed and increasing financial services for credit unions and An Post is absolutely essential. They were there for us during the financial bust and have been there for us since. Families struggled. I know I struggled but An Post and credit unions were there for me when everything else collapsed. They should be rewarded for this. They have proven that they can be trusted and the State owes them the opportunity to expand their financial services.
Fianna Fáil and its Government partners believe An Post has untapped potential to do so much more and make further significant contributions across many areas of public life, business and community. The Government believes An Post has untapped potential and it has already made a significant contribution to our communities and economic development. It can do so much more. I very much welcome the consensus across the House today. In terms of that consensus, we can show the Cabinet that we are all serious about looking after the rural and urban An Post network. We know it is as integral for our citizens in urban Ireland as it is for those in rural areas.