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Minister can't deliver on new postcode system

MULTI-MILLION euro plans to develop a national postcode system have been postponed indefinitely.

Despite two major reports, extensive public consultation and promises that postcodes would be in place by January 1, it has emerged that Communications Minister Eamon Ryan has yet to decide if and when the system will be introduced.

It is understood the cost of implementing the system will be e15m but ongoing annual maintenance costs will also have to be met.

Last month Minister Ryan said that the National Postcode Project Board (NPPB) had already suggested what benefits might arise from the plan.

But yesterday it emerged that another round of public consultation has been ordered.

"A memo was submitted to Government in May seeking approval for the implementation of a postcode system," a Department of Communications spokesman said yesterday.

"The decision was that the Minister would revert to Government following further analysis to quantify the benefits, which would then be followed by a public consultation process. The Department is currently engaged in this analysis."

The agreed Programme for Government also contained a commitment to introduce a postcode system in Ireland, he added.

Ireland is one of the few countries without a postcode system. The-then Minister Noel Dempsey said in May 2005 that each home would have a multi-digit code by January 1 next.

Yesterday Labour communications spokesman Tommy Broughan called on the Minister to clarify the position.

"This looks incredibly suspicious," he said. "We had an extensive debate on this. It did have merits as it would allow An Post to grow its business."

An Post has already said it doesn't need a postcode system, but commercial marketing companies are the main drivers of the project. Data Protection Commissioner has previously expressed concern about using postcodes for anything other than delivering mail.

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