Funding could secure future of Athlone Mail Centre

The future of Athlone Mail Centre could now be secure thanks to a €30m funding boost announced this week by Minister for Communications, Denis Naughten.

Concerns were heightened earlier this year when it was revealed that An Post had commissioned McKinseys to carry out a report on the status of the mail centres in Athlone, Portlaoise, Cork, and Dublin. There has been concern among the centre’s 180 strong workforce that the report would recommend the closure of the Athlone facility.

However, on Tuesday of this week Minister Naughten announced a €30m government investment plan in the Post Office Network, which will help to keep post offices open and bring additional government services to communities.

The plan for the future of post offices includes developing their service to include a wider range of financial and banking services. An Post’s proposed strategy moving forward also involves splitting the company into two distinct business units dealing with mail and parcel delivery. In addition, a new initiative called ‘Digital Assist’ will use the local post office as a digital gateway for Government business.

The news has been welcomed by the Irish Postmasters Union (IPU ). IPU executive member and midlands spokesperson, Vincent Harney said: “We welcome Minister Naughten’s announcement today. The IPU is now keen to see the specific details of the investment and the timeline for its implementation. What is important is that a significant portion of this money goes to protecting and securing the Post Office Network and does not get consumed in addressing other problems faced by An Post.

“Postmasters will now focus on working with the minister and An Post to translate the investment into tangible benefits for Post Offices as quickly possible. We are grateful to Bobby Kerr for the role he played in the early stage of this negotiation in producing two important reports.

“Postmasters want to get this investment and the promised new services into Post Offices’ offering to the public quickly, including developing the Post Office as a digital gateway for Government business which Minister Naughten has announced. The IPU is committed to working with Government and An Post to develop the network and keep as many Post Offices as possible serving communities across the country.”

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