Friday 19 July 2019

'I'm aware of the the Limerick and Shannon issue' - Minister Alex White deflects Eircode criticism

Liam Duggan, director of Eircode, Minister for Communications Alex White TD
Liam Duggan, director of Eircode, Minister for Communications Alex White TD

David Kearns

Communications Minister Alex White has defended the country’s new national postcodes, saying any “anomalies” with the system are the result of problems Eircode was designed to fix.

Having launched earlier today, many members of the public have been pointing out problems with the €27 million service - including locating Shannon Airport in Co Limerick instead of Co Clare and it not displaying addresses for more than 50,000 properties because of their Irish placenames.

Minister Alex White said, despite early concerns, the system will “improve efficient by making it easier for businesses and emergency services to find where you live.”

Read More: Ireland's new national postcode service is having some teething problems

“We’ve only started. This is just day one of a really big national project… and we can’t solve all of its problems in a couple of hours,” he told Newstalk Radio.

“First of all, it will make it easier for your postman to deliver mail to you. It will make it easier to shop online, and it means Government will be better able to focus its delivery of public services .”

Within minutes of Eircode going live, the mistakes were highlighted on social media.

While most obvious was Shannon Airport's relocation to Limerick, along with many other businesses and addresses in the Shannon region, many rural villages found themselves on the wrong side of a county border.

Under the new system, each address in Ireland will be assigned a randomly generated seven character code.

Read More: Eircode Postcodes: What you need to know about Ireland's new postcode system

The geography is identified by three characters based on postal districts and is known as the "routing key" and the exact location is marked by a combination of letters and numbers known as a "unique identifier".

Part of the codes is random, prompting some criticism as there is no connection between two addresses side by side.

Downplaying criticism that the Eircode system fails to connect with Google Maps or other popular navigation services, Minister White said people needed to be patient, that –“all the modern kinds of connectivity people have come to expect will, in fact, happened.

“Give this some fair wind. At day one, we’re giving out the area codes, and as the weeks and months go by, people will see the benefits of this system.

“We’re at an advantage compared to other countries with older area code systems that haven’t been developed with this technology in mind.

“Wait and see, in a short few weeks and months this system will seriously take hold.”

Addressing complaints that the new national postal code system incorrectly displays where people live, in many cases placing their homes in different counties, the Minister dismissed these “anomalies” as legacy issues from many Irish properties not having “unique addresses.”

“The Limerick and Shannon issue… it has nothing to do with Eircode,” he said.

Read More: Eircode postal system to launch today

“Shannon Airport is in County Clare as many people know, the problem is that its never actually been assigned an address. That’s the confusion people are seeing when they enter their addresses and see their addresses have changed.

“Let me assure people, no one is having their addresses changed, or their county changed. We didn’t fix these decade old issue because we didn’t need to. Using Eircode solves this problem.”

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