Postcode system to be implemented within 18 months

Every home and business premises in State to be issued with ‘unique identifier’

Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte plans to implement the long-awaited postcode system with a “unique identifier” for every dwelling and premises within 18 months. Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte plans to implement the long-awaited postcode system with a “unique identifier” for every dwelling and premises within 18 months. Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

 


Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte plans to implement the long-awaited postcode system with a “unique identifier” for every dwelling and premises within 18 months.

Mr Rabbitte will bring a memo to Cabinet on Tuesday explaining the status of the proposal to allocate exclusive codes with seven or eight characters to every letterbox in the State.

Ireland is the only State in the European Union or among OECD countries that does not have a national postcode system in place, but Mr Rabbitte will tell ministerial colleagues the incoming system will be the most modern in Europe.

Unique code
Under the plan, householders and business owners will know their unique code within a year. The system is designed to improve the efficiency of delivery of post and parcels, but it will also assist in the provision of public services.

Householders and business owners will be able to give the unique code to service providers, such as ambulance dispatchers, to ensure their location is easily found. The new development will not spell the death knell for Dublin’s most prestigious property districts such as D4 and D6.

It is expected that the addresses will be reflected in the new “alpha-numeric” codes, which will contain a mixture of numbers and letters, in a manner similar to the vehicle registration system.

A “postcode operator” is due to be appointed in September. The operator will manage the system and be responsible for the dissemination of codes. A tender process to appoint the operator will soon enter its final phase.

The Post Office and the Ordnance Survey Office have pooled data to assist the development of the system.

The system is expected to have a particular impact in rural areas, where many homes have addresses that can often only be interpreted with detailed local knowledge.

The introduction of a postcode system was one of the previous Fianna Fáil/Green Party administration’s programme for government commitments.

Implementation cost
That Coalition calculated the system could cost up to €15 million to introduce while annual maintenance could amount to €2.5 million. Mr Rabbitte’s predecessor as minister for communications Eamon Ryan strongly supported the concept of a postcode system, but in 2010 Labour’s then communications spokeswoman Liz McManus described the estimated spend as “totally unjustifiable in the current climate”.

Mr Ryan said in 2011 that the memorability of the codes would be important. “I think it should be something you retain in your mind, a postal code that can make sense for the area and is not just a random series of letters and numbers,” he said.

Mr Ryan’s predecessor Noel Dempsey had previously set a 2008 deadline for the system’s introduction.

In 2005, a working group recommended the introduction of postcodes on the basis that such a system would provide efficiencies within the postal sector, boost national competitiveness and assist in the provision of public and private sector services.