Between 160 and 360 post offices will close in Ireland in the next four years, according to An Post chief executive David McRedmond.
On Friday Mr McRedmond said he believed there will be between 700 to 900 post offices in Ireland within four years compared to the current total of ,1066. He said An Post does not close post offices, as they are individual businesses run by post masters.
"We cannot guarantee to keep open every post office because those post offices are individual businesses" he told RTE's Today with Sean O'Rourke show.
Post offices will inevitably close as populations move, he said. An Post will ensure that everyone in the country is within “a reasonable distance” of a post office, Mr McRedmond said.
“We’ve discussed this with the Department [of Communications] and the Minister and he’s on board with the strategy,”
The company will make funds available to look after post masters, added Mr McRedmond.
However, he warned that An Post cannot treat post offices like a theme park and keep everything like it was 100 years ago.
“Things have to change” he said. There is “a pent up demand” for exit packages for post masters and he said there could be “a significant number” who need this.
The increase in stamp prices had helped An Post revenues and this year will be better than last year, said Mr McRedmond, but the company will have to find revenues for the future years.
This will happen through an enhanced parcel service and financial services.
The Irish Postmasters Union (IPU) is scheduled to hold an emergency general meeting (EGM) with its members on Sunday October 1st, to discuss a number of issues facing the post network and negotiations with An Post.
In July the IPU national executive withdrew from discussions with An Post over a breakdown in negotiations.
The union said they took the decision to walk away from talks on the future of the post network as they felt there was no prospect for an agreement to be reached.
General secretary Ned O’Hara said the union would not be commenting on reports of proposed future closures of post offices until after the group’s meeting on Sunday.
There are several sticking points in the negotiations on the future of the post office network between An Post and the IPU.
The main issue is the scale of An Post’s plans for the size of the post network into the future, and the declining incomes of postmasters. The union has said more needs to be done to ensure the viability of the post network into the foreseeable future.
The union have refused to co-operate with the rollout of a new An Post “Smart Account” debit card, and have maintained they will only comply with the new initiative when other questions on the post network’s future are settled.