Broadband roll-out and Post Office improvements to protect rural communities.
Issued : Saturday 26 April, 2014
Irish Postmasters’ Union (IPU) General Secretary Brian McGann said Postmasters were encouraged by Labour Minister, Pat Rabbitte’s, comments made during a Primetime special and looked forward to working with him to deliver concrete outcomes.
During the “Primetime” debate on the future Post Offices, the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte cited a number of opportunities which he said could be explored to bring new business to Post Offices and help to secure their future.
In particular Minister Rabbitte referred to the IPU’s proposal to develop a Post Office based banking service working with Credit Unions which he described as an opportunity and idea that could be developed.
The Minister also said that providing additional services such as Driving Licence Renewal, Motor Tax Renewal and payment of Property Tax at Post Offices were good ideas which could be looked at further.
“The “Primetime” programme showed the genuine concern that communities have about Post Office closures, and desire that communities have to keep them open, as one of the last services remaining in many villages and towns.
"Postmasters will work constructively with the Minister, and all other Departments, to find solutions and to further enhance the role of Post Offices as the face of Government in the community, and to fully explore the potential to provide an additional banking force.”
“We have a top class IT system in place in all 1150 Post Offices. We are open for business and will work constructively with the whole of Government to secure the services we provide and to provide additional service to communities,” Brian McGann said.
The Minister provided assurance that people would continue to be entitled to receive their benefits in person at Post Offices if they choose to do so, in spite of the ongoing move towards direct debit payment of benefits into bank accounts.
In a further announcement the Labour Minister confirmed that 1100 towns and villages across Ireland are to benefit from the roll-out of a new fibre network, delivering quality broadband to each location.
This major fibre-roll out is a more ambitious programme than originally envisaged under the National Broadband Plan. It aims to guarantee that rural Ireland can enjoy similar quality broadband to urban Ireland.
78 Donegal villages will be added to the 2016 programme list. In Inishowen Redcastle, Lecamy, Carrowmenagh, Glentogher, Gleneely. Dunaff and Doagh will be amongst the additional roll-out.
Welcoming these announcements, Labour councillor, Martin Farren said, “This is a major investment in the broadband infrastructure of rural Ireland, and represents the first phase in the State’s plan to ensure that everyone in rural Ireland enjoys high quality broadband. Many rural premises will be passed by fibre that can offer unlimited speeds, local schools and other community facilities will get direct fibre connections and telecoms operators will be able to serve rural dwellers in villages and beyond with a much better service than they currently enjoy.