Anger as An Post delivers challenge to town post office

Aine Fitzgerald


Aine Fitzgerald

Catherine O'Brien outside her post office in Kilmallock with Deputy Niall Collins this week. Picture: Michael Cowhey
A COUNTY Limerick postmistress who pumped a substantial amount of money into her business says she is “disgusted and frustrated” after finding out that An Post are to open a new service in a nearby business park.

A COUNTY Limerick postmistress who pumped a substantial amount of money into her business says she is “disgusted and frustrated” after finding out that An Post are to open a new service in a nearby business park.

Catherine O’Brien of Kilmallock Post Office says she heard from a stranger that a new facility is to open which will allow for the sale of stamps and in turn will facilitate the sale of registered, express and parcel postage.

“I’m disgusted and frustrated after buying a premises. I found out from a stranger about two weeks ago - An Post didn’t even inform me,” Ms O’Brien told the Leader this week.

“They are putting in a counter this week. I have heard that they are going to be selling stamps and you can pay for parcels down there. That’s the start of it but down the line who knows what else they will be doing?” she continued.

Ms O’Brien purchased a property for her post office on Lord Edward Street in Kilmallock two years ago having previously worked from a rented facility on Sarsfield Street. The new An Post facility is to be located in the local An Post Delivery Service Unit (DSU) in the Kilmallock Business Park on Bruree Road.

Ms O’Brien is concerned for her livelihood as postmistresses and postmasters don’t get a salary but receive payment per transaction.

“They are taking from my business – it’s crazy. I am getting worried because we have to pay a mortgage. We get paid on every transaction - it will make an awful difference. I have four staff. I get paid on every transaction I do and if business goes down, things could disappear overnight. It will be parcels and stamps to start with but down the line they will probably have more services,” she said.

“I would encourage people to support their local post office. Every transaction counts and if people don’t support their post office, it could go,” continued Ms O’Brien who has been postmistress in Kilmallock since 2008.

She said she has voiced her concerns to An Post and is awaiting a response, and has also notified the Irish Postmasters’ Union.

Tom O’Callaghan of the union said: “We are looking into it – we have contacted the company.”

When contacted this week, Angus Laverty of public affairs with An Post said the move “is not in any way meant to cannibalise on the local post office”.

“It is supposed to complement the local post office. There is a very good service being provided by the local post office. It is a recognition that we need to do something for small and medium enterprises in particular to make it easier for them to access post,” he said.

The new service which is set to open in the coming weeks enables the sale of SOAR (stamps on a roll) which will in turn facilitate the sale of registered, express and parcel postage at the DSU.

The service was originally piloted by An Post in five of its delivery services units nationwide - Swords/Malahide, Blanchardstown, Tallaght, Gorey and Sligo. The offices are based in business parks where there are concentrations of business customers, parking facilities and mails expertise. The service is also now being provided at Galway DSU.

“An Post has identified small to medium size (SME) businesses as a potential area for growth with parcels a particular focus for the company. Customers carrying larger volumes of letters or parcels find it convenient to deal directly with their local DSU,” Mr Laverty continued.

“Mail volumes across Europe are in decline. An Post’s mail volumes have fallen approximately 30 per cent since the peak of 2007. The new service is one of the ways in which An Post is attempting to address this serious volume decline,” he added.

Deputy Niall Collins said he is supporting Ms O’Brien in her campaign to protect her business and will be raising the matter in the Dail.

“It’s an absolute disgrace that the government through An Post are continuing their attack on rural Ireland in this covert manner. Here you have somebody who has invested heavily their own resources into a business and they are now being undermined by the government. It’s another demonstration of how out of touch the government have become. I will be raising this issue directly with the minister and in the Dail.”