Minister keen to introduce postcodes


Minister for Communications Eamon Ryan is set to press ahead with the introduction of postcodes in the Republic although the original 2008 deadline set by his predecessor, Noel Dempsey, is likely to be missed, writes Ciarán Hancock, Business Affairs Correspondent.

Addressing a ComReg conference on postal services yesterday, the Minister said the codes should be introduced as a matter of priority.

"I am committed to working with An Post, the wider industry and my Government colleagues to make sure that a clear and simple system of postcodes is introduced as soon as possible," he said.

A spokeswoman for the Minister said no timeframe had been set on the introduction of the postcodes, which will have to go to Cabinet for approval.

But industry sources said their introduction would not be possible before 2009 at the earliest.

An Post, which has previously estimated the cost of introducing the codes at €50 million, said it was happy to work on the introduction of the new system.

Kevin Galligan, managing director of DX Ireland, a private company that provides postal services to business customers, said the move would benefit competition when the market is fully liberalised on January 1st, 2011.

"We're delighted," Mr Galligan said. "All we need to know is the timeline and how its introduction should be structured."

Postcodes were first introduced in the 1970s to facilitate the automated sorting of mail. They are used in 117 countries.

Separately, ComReg, the industry regulator, yesterday published its findings on the full opening of the postal market here.

The body has recommended that An Post should be regulated by a body that has "adequate and appropriate enforcement powers" to help ensure the quality of the postal service at a cost-effective price.

At present, ComReg monitors An Post's quality of service but cannot penalise the company for failing to meet its quality targets.

It has also called for the introduction of a licensing system for new entrants rather than an authorisation process, "since the threat of potential licence removal may be more effective in securing sustained quality levels".

ComReg said the risks to the provision of universal services that are posed by full liberalisation are "low, and likely to emerge slowly, if at all".