Saturday 21 January 2017

'It's a waste of money... like those voting machines' - Five months on from its launch, customers at the GPO dismiss Eircode as 'a complete farce'

Do a high proportion of the population use Eircode? Or have the 7-digit numbers sunk without trace just like e-voting machines?

Sarah-Jane Murphy

Published 24/12/2015 | 16:17

Pictured - Liam Duggan, director of Eircode, Minister for Communications Alex White TD at the launch of Eircodes
Pictured - Liam Duggan, director of Eircode, Minister for Communications Alex White TD at the launch of Eircodes
A screen grab from the Eircode website that caused several teething issues when it was introduced
Pat Rabbitte and Liam Duggan, business development director of Capita Ireland, at the launch of ‘Eircode’ in the GPO

Independent.ie carried out a poll to gauge the public’s attitude to Eircode, putting questions to customers during the festive rush at the GPO in Dublin.

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Of those surveyed, only a very modest 16pc said they regularly use Eircode when addressing a letter or a parcel. 

Caren Gilroy (41) of Meath Street in Dublin said that in her opinion the project was a complete waste of money.

“We managed perfectly fine without it for years. There are issues in this country like homelessness that are in need of funding. That's what the money should have been spent on,” she told Independent.ie.

Jim Dilger (57) from Limerick City admitted he was “clueless” about the system.

“Even if I wanted to I wouldn't know how to find the post code of the place I'm sending this letter to,” he said.

Meanwhile Stephanie Curran (39) from Rathgar in Dublin said that she uses Eircode regularly.

“I lived in the UK for years so I'm well used to using postcodes.

"It actually gives me a degree of comfort, it feels like my letter has a better chance of getting there, especially as there's a cheque inside,” she told Independent.ie.

But Lucy Murphy (72) from Ashbourne didn’t agree with her, describing Eircode as “an absolute waste of money”.

“When you hear on the radio that there are families with young children waking up in hotel rooms it makes me so sad.

"The money should be spent on people, not post codes,” she said.

Gavin Dorney (48) from Inchicore declared himself a fan of Eircodes.

“I love technology and I actually work in logistics, my job revolves around distribution, so I was interested in how the system would operate.

“I think it will really help people who live in isolated rural areas, they will have more of a chance of getting their post on time now,” he told Independent.ie.

With the project estimated to have cost a cool €27 million, it was lauded as the solution to eliminate confusion relating to non-unique addresses, especially in rural areas.

However Joan Whitney (62) from Delgany holds a contradictory view.

“It's a complete waste of tax money, just like those voting machines years ago. The Government is just trying to keep up with the Joneses - the English and the Germans – and we are the mugs paying for it.”

She said that she doesn’t recall receiving an Eircode for her property.

“I live in a relatively rural area and my post has no bother in reaching me. I order things online sometimes and it arrives very quickly without using an Eircode," she said.

Mulhuddart man Owen Byrne (24) told Independent.ie that he wasn’t even aware that Eircodes had been introduced over the summer.

“I wouldn't be bothered looking it up if I was sending a letter, what's the point if it's going to get there anyway.

“It's typically Irish – the fact that it's optional. It should either be compulsory or they should forget about the whole thing," he said.

Susie Maher (44) from Clondalkin is one of the few people questioned who voiced support for Eircodes.

She told Independent.ie that she regularly uses the 7-digit numbers.

“Yeah I'm using the Eircodes because most of the letters I post are in pre-printed envelopes to Vodafone or the ESB.

“If I was sending a birthday card I don't know if I would bother using it but I do think it's a good idea and maybe less post will go missing from now on,” she said.

Businessman John Dooly (34) from Athlone said that he never uses Eircodes.

“There's never been a need for us to use them.

“It's a waste of time and money, just ridiculous,” he said.

Bernie Mullen (47) from Swords agreed with his sentiments saying that the project is “a complete farce”.

“Out of principle I won't use them. There wasn't enough of an information campaign when they were introduced. People don't even know the code for their own home let alone anyone else’s” she told Independent.ie.

Dunshaughlin resident, Rob Shannon (82), said he has used the Irish postal system for the last 70 years and hadn't experienced bad service.

“It's never let me down so I'll be damned if I'm going to bow to the Government and do what I'm told. If it ain't broke why fix it?”

Five months on from its much-lauded launch, a Department of Environment spokeswoman has said that in usage terms Eircode is only starting to “become visible”.

“It is too early to make a full evaluation of the project.

“However, based on engagement with public and private sector bodies during the development phase of the project, I am satisfied that, as usage of Eircode increases, they will support economic activity and deliver social benefits,” Claire Collins told Independent.ie.

She explained that some public sector entities have begun to use the 7-digit reference numbers in recent weeks.

“A number of public sector bodies, such as the Revenue Commissioners and Department of Social Protection, have started using Eircode in customer engagement, and this process will continue over the coming months.

“The National Ambulance Service is expected to start using Eircode shortly,” Ms. Collins said.

Back in July at the Eircode launch, Communications Minister Alex White said that 35 per cent of Irish addresses are not unique, and that many homes in low-population locations rely on their townland for address purposes.

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