Tuesday, 31 January 2017
Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht
Post Office Network
414. To ask the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the way in which her Department proposes to oversee and monitor the implementation of actions to support the post office network, arising out of the report of the post office renewal board and the Post Office Hub Working Group as outlined in point 20 of the action plan for rural development; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4111/17]
The Post Office Network Business Development Group, chaired by Mr. Bobby Kerr, was established in late 2014 to examine the potential for additional Government business – as well as commercial business – to be transacted through the Post Office network. The final report of the Group was published in January 2016.
On foot of this report, two Working Groups were established to progress the recommendations arising from the report of the Business Development Group; these were the Post Office Network Renewal Implementation Group, chaired by Mr. Kerr, and the Post Office Hub Working Group which I myself chaired.
The Network Renewal Group examined a number of issues relating to the Post Office network, including the number and spatial distribution of post offices, branch modernisation, the streamlining of products and services, and postmaster contracts. Mr Kerr submitted his final report to An Post on 23rd December last.
The role of the Post Office Hub Working Group was to identify potential models under which the post offices could act as community hubs, especially in rural areas. This Working Group has also completed its work, and final drafting changes are currently being made to the Group’s report. I will be making this report available to the Government as soon as possible.
The recommendations arising out of these reports will be considered by the Board of An Post and by the Government respectively and I anticipate that a number of firm actions will be agreed for delivery by An Post, by my own Department, and potentially by other Government Departments.
These actions will be monitored on an on-going basis by my Department through its direct engagement in delivery, and also through the processes which are being put in place to monitor the implementation of the Action Plan for Rural Development as a whole. A Monitoring Committee, which will be chaired by Minister Heather Humphreys, will meet on a regular basis to monitor the progress of each of the actions in the Plan. The Monitoring Committee will include the key stakeholders from relevant public bodies and from business and rural interests. Progress reports will be published every six months.