An Post has confirmed its local delivery staff do not use the State’s new Eircode system developed at a cost of €38 million.
This is despite the fact that An Post franks letters with a reminder to its customers to use the Eircode system.
The issue was raised by Fianna Fáil spokesman on communications Timmy Dooley who said it was “simply inconceivable that An Post, despite promoting the use of Eircodes, do not make use of them when delivering post”.
In response, An Post said its customers were “strongly” advised to use Eircode when posting mail and for Eircode to be integrated as part of a postal address.
“However,” An Post continued: “Eircodes were never intended or designed for use at local delivery level”.
Instead, the postal service uses “the regular postal address of a property at the final stage of delivery.
“With approximately 2.5 million mail items handled each day by An Post it would not be practical to use Eircode to find a customer’s delivery address,” the company said in a statement.
A spokesman explained that while the Eircode – which is a unique identifier of the location of every property in the State – is not used in the final stages of delivery, it can be used at the initial stages.
Machinery in the national mail centres use automated processors which are “fully equipped to handle the Eircode as part of a regular postal address”.
This means that a letter sent from, for example Leitrim, to Wicklow could be assessed in the national mail centres with the aid of its address and Eircode, directing it to its county of destination. But when the letter arrives at the destination it is delivered by a human, who may have 600 addresses on the postal round.
Delivery men and women could not be expected to remember the post code of each home, according to An Post.
Mr Dooley, who raised the issue after being made aware of it this week, said the news was a surprise. “How is it that the State has spent €38 million on developing, rolling out and advertising Eircode that the State’s own postal delivery service doesn’t bother to use?” he asked.
“What’s worse is that An Post franks post going through their system with the message ‘Remember to use your Eircode’, yet still thinks it’s acceptable to not make use of it when delivering post,” he said.
“The mind boggles at the complete lack of joined-up thinking at Minister [for Communications Denis] Naughten’s department.
“There is no point spending nearly €40 million in designing and advertising a scheme such as Eircode and then not using it properly. I really hope that this is a case of miscommunication rather than a failure to implement government policy,” concluded Mr Dooley.
As a unique identifier, Eircode is capable of being installed in satellite navigation systems which could guide emergency services to households and businesses. It is currently used by the national ambulance service. It is also available on Google maps, among other databases.
Questions to Eircode were referred by that organisation to its public relations department. A response had not been received at the time of writing.