Tuesday 16 October 2018

TV licence service 'vital for our post offices'

Ned O’Hara, general secretary of the Irish Postmasters’ Union
Ned O’Hara, general secretary of the Irish Postmasters’ Union

Alan O'Keeffe

A plea to allow Ireland's embattled post offices to continue selling television licences has been made by postmasters.

They don't want the job handed over to the Revenue Commissioners, as has been recommended by an Oireachtas committee.

The Irish Postmasters' Union (IPU) said running the service through the Revenue Commissioners, as proposed by the Joint Oireachtas Committee for Communications, would further reduce transactions in post offices, which are already struggling to stay open with falling revenues. The TV licence sales business is worth €3m a year to the post offices.

The recommendation to give the taxman the job is contrary to the Government's move last month to invest €30m in post offices, including sanctioning additional services in them, such as motor tax collection.

IPU general secretary Ned O'Hara said: "Customers should continue to have the option to renew TV licences at the post office. For many, this service is working perfectly well as it is.

"Postmasters understand the revenue challenges faced by RTÉ and difficulties for An Post in collecting the fee.

"Our suggestion is that payment of the licence fee should continue at the post office. However, defaulters should be identified and written to directly by the Revenue Commissioners."

This would help increase the monies collected, he said.

"Post offices are struggling and urgently need to offer an increased range of services to the public. The investment must also deliver agreement on modernised postmaster contracts and an agreed plan for the size of the post office network. This investment must not get diverted into addressing other issues at An Post," Mr O'Hara said.

Meanwhile, An Post delivered more than 500,000 parcels in the past week, following Black Friday and Cyber Monday online shopping - a 17pc increase on last year. Half of the goods originated in Ireland and half abroad.

"We've a lot of new contract business and the re-launch and re-specification of our parcel business, with evening and Saturday deliveries and later cut-off times for next-day delivery, has already contributed an extra €8m profit this year," Garrett Bridgeman, managing director of An Post Mails and Parcels, said.

Irish Independent

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