A Clare postmaster has outlined plans to set up a new postmasters’ union, following claims that the existing Irish Postmasters’ Union (IPU) has “failed miserably” to safeguard the interests of more than 1,000 of its members.
Kildysart native, Tom O’Callaghan confirmed to The Clare Champion his intentions to set up a new Independent Postmasters’ Group, once the latest Dáil bill in relation to postal services is passed.
Mr O’Callaghan, who runs a post office on Upper William Street in Limerick City, officially resigned from the IPU on Wednesday evening.
According to his resignation letter, a copy of which has been seen by The Clare Champion, the Clarecastle resident said it is with a heavy heart that he had come to the conclusion that the current executive of the IPU has “failed miserably in their duty of care to guard the interest of their membership”.
“Their silence in the current crisis of An Post announcing the unviability of up 700 offices is nothing short of shocking and comes on top of numerous decisions, which have left the general membership bewildered.
“In particular, the executive signed a confidentiality pact with An Post, which prevents the executive of the IPU from informing its own members of the extent of the current crises.
“What interests are served by this silence? Certainly not that of the members and postmasters. In all sincerity, I believe I could best serve my constituents and fellow postmasters from outside this organisation.
“To this effect, I now tender my resignation from the executive and membership of the Irish Postmasters Union,” the letter stated.
Mr O’Callaghan believes that implementing the provisions of the new postal bill will safeguard the future of every post office in the country. The new bill paves the way for the creation of a new community post office bank, based on the success of the New Zealand model.
He estimates that this new bank could generate €100 million in profit annually and up to €1 billion in a decade, which in turn could be re-invested in local communities.
He says the bill represents a “historical reversal” of the damage inflicted on post offices for the last two decades.
The Irish Postmasters’ Union (IPU) is the representative body for 90% of postmasters, including more than 1,000 members.
According to the IPU’s mission statement, it works to ensure a secure future for post offices across Ireland and is committed to maximising the economic and social value of post offices.
The IPU is currently engaged in two working groups, along with Government and An Post, to develop the future of post offices.
The union made a detailed presentation to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Regional Development, Rural Affairs, Arts and the Gaeltacht recently.
The presentation was part of an information gathering process being led by the committee. The hearing was also attended by An Post, the Irish League of Credit Unions, AIB and Bank of Ireland. The committee is to compile a report on what can be done to support and sustain rural Ireland.
IPU general secretary, Ned O’Hara gave a presentation highlighting the urgency for appropriate investment to protect the network; a comprehensive five-year plan; the provision of extra State and financial services; a comprehensive five-year plan and the delivery of new social and community services, particularly in rural areas.
By Dan Danaher