Kildare is set to benefit from increased investment in the Post Office network, said Martin Heydon, Fine Gael TD.

There will be a €50 million investment in growing and modernising the post office network following the announcement, earlier this week, of strong financial results for the company.

As part of the strategy for modernising Post Offices, An Post Retail has been established as a dedicated business unit within An Post.

Deputy Martin Heydon said: “Today’s announcement represents a positive first step in the journey of reinvigorating our national post office network and making it a viable service that meets the needs of communities across the country, particularly in rural areas here in Kildare.

“This represents a major milestone and shows that by working together An Post, the IPU and Postmasters, along with Government support, a viable and sustainable future for the post office network can be delivered.

“An Post Retail which will include Post Offices, Bill Pay and Post Insurance manages €14bn of cash annually, more than any other retailer in Ireland, and creates employment for over 3,500 people nationwide. An Post Retail’s plans for the future of the Post Office Network include a guarantee that every community will benefit from a modern post office service.

“An Post has committed to a post office for every community of over 500 people; within 15km of 95% of the population and 3km in urban areas.

“While there will be some consolidation to ensure post offices are conveniently and properly located there will be no compulsory closures.

“An Post will open up to 20 new offices in communities of more than 500 people currently without a post office to remain the largest retail network in the country.”

Deputy Heydon  said: “The local Post Office is best placed to provide support for people who do not want to go online to carry out their day to day business.

“Representing the largest retail network in Ireland, the network of post offices is the obvious choice as the “offline gateway” for people with its reach, trusted brand and existing strong relationship in our local communities.

“Communications Minister, Denis Naughten, has asked An Post to develop the concept of ‘Digital Assist’ whereby the Post Office would provide access for people to a wide range of Government services.

“Funding of €80,000 has been provided by my Fine Gael colleague, the Minister for Community and Rural Development Michael Ring, to help with rolling out a Digital Assist pilot scheme.

“This pilot will see 10 post offices kitted out so people can access online Government services easily. The 10 are to be located in rural post offices and will be in place in the coming weeks.

“This initiative has the potential to improve access to essential government services and act as a model for rural post offices revitalisation. Post offices are central to rural Ireland and act as an important gateway to government services for many older and vulnerable people.”