Fine Gael Kildare South TD, Martin Heydon, has welcomed the setting up of a Government backed Business Development Group (BDG) to find new opportunities for local post offices which are at the centre of our communities.

“This new Business Development Group will seek ways to increase the level of government and commercial business going through our post offices. The group will include representation from the Government, An Post and the Irish Postmasters’ Union (IPU), and will be Chaired by an independent Chairperson to be announced in January. The group is to provide an interim report by the end of March 2015 and a full report by June 2015.

“The announcement of the Business Development Group comes as a result of a Government review of our post office network announced earlier this year by then Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte. At that time there was a lot of scare mongering by opposition parties about post office closures. The truth is that while twenty two post offices have closed nationwide between 2011- 2014, 288 post offices were closed down between 2005 – 2010.

“It has been a difficult few years for post office networks worldwide. The increase in smart phone use means people send emails like texts now and so the writing of letters has dropped substantially.

“The Government is moving towards making our post offices the front office of government and the network has already adapted extremely well to changing times by taking on the social welfare contract and offering new services such as foreign exchange, banking, tax payment and passport services.

“Post Offices play an important economic and social role in Irish communities. This Government is committed to taking full advantage of the many opportunities which exist through post offices and the BDG is part of this. There is great potential for post offices to play an even more central role in Irish life and I am hopeful that the BDG will come up with some exciting and viable opportunities.”