Up to half 1,200 post offices face closure in new plan
Half of the post offices around the country are not commercially viable, a stark report warns.
And it will cost €10m a year to keep the entire rural post office network open.
An Post management only needs 600 out of a total of 1,130 post offices to deliver its contract to pay out welfare benefits.
The contention from An Post management means some 530 post offices now face an uncertain future.
The confidential Kerr Report on the future of the network, states: "The company makes the valid argument that keeping the other 530 post offices in rural Ireland is costing the business over €10m annually, a figure which is increasing each year."
And 68pc of the activity for the total network is channelled through the top 350 post offices.
The report, by a group chaired by businessman Bobby Kerr, says "making the 530 post offices in their current location with their current range of products and services commercially viable in the future is probably not achievable".
"From a commercial point of view, An Post clearly does not need these offices, but from a political and social point of view, they are regarded by many as important and necessary," it says.
An Post wants to close down any post office that does not make money.
The Government will discuss the future of the post offices at today's meeting of the Cabinet.
Among the proposals on the table is turning post offices threatened with closure into community centres offering services such as welfare payments, current accounts and motor tax payment facilities, along with expert advice, coffee shops and technology.