The man charged with introducing the Republic’s controversial new post code has hit back at the system’s critics ahead of its expected launch next week.
The new Eircode post codes could be formally launched next week after the legislation introducing the system passed the final stages in the Oireachtas just days ago.
However, the Freight Transport Association of Ireland has formally complained to the European Commission that Eircode constitutes an illegal state aid to An Post, as the organisation says it will benefit only that company.
Mapping and navigation experts have also claimed the seven-digit system will not work and are calling for models based on a grid or a system similar to the UK’s.
Liam Duggan, chief executive of Eircode, said problems peculiar to addresses in the Republic would render these systems useless.
He pointed out that Eircode had to deal with the difficulty presented by the fact that 700,000 addresses in the Republic are “non-unique”, that is, more than one property shares them.
This is partly down to the fact that in rural areas, neighbours on one stretch of road often have the same address.
Mr Duggan said he has met members of the transport association and listened to their complaints.
“A system that would suit their purposes would not suit everybody else. We were not designing a system for just one body or just one company,” he said.
“Different people divide up the country in different ways: the HSE into treatment areas, for instance; and the Garda divides into divisions. If you came up with a system to suit one body it would not suit everybody else,” he added.
Eircode has two elements: a three-figure “route key” number and a random, four-digit mix of letters and numbers that pinpoints the address. The final product will look like: A65 F4E2. The company will shortly mail all homes, businesses and organisations in the State to tell them their Eircode.
Mr Duggan argued a grid system would be “utterly useless” as it would produce multiple codes for each individual address. He also said that a system such as that used in the UK would result in groups of addresses sharing the same code.
The State paid consultancy Capita between €15 million and €16 million to develop the code. It set up the Eircode subsidiary for the purpose. The company intends to sell its database data to businesses that need the information.