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Snippet Contents:

These payment accounts could also facilitate the use of a dedicated debit card, full access to ATM facilities and the use of standing orders and direct debit facilities. The report also identified that the payment of motor tax through the An Post network should be considered. One of the recommendations that must be looked at very closely is the proposal that An Post develop a formal structure with the credit union movement either through a representative organisation or interested unions to establish the potential scope for a link-up.
Another interesting aspect of the Kerr report was that it suggested we put a monetary value on the social aspect of the post office network. This is something about which I feel very strongly. We should put a monetary value on the social aspect of the postal network. The report also highlighted that there may be opportunities for An Post to provide additional services to the small and medium enterprise, SME, sector and this again is something that we must investigate further.
At this stage, it is important to state that the programme for Government also provided for commitments regarding post offices. The programme for Government committed to acting on the recommendations of the Kerr report and this I welcome. I am also pleased that the Minister of State, Deputy Michael Ring, has established a working group to examine and identify potential models for how post offices could act as community hubs, particularly in rural areas. As I said, we must protect the post office network. The establishment of these working groups will go a long way to providing a way forward for the network provided the recommendations are acted on.
I record for the House my complete support for the retention of the postal network. The postal network is part of society and too many depend on it. We must not diminish the role of the post office but must continue to support fully the concept of the postal network and develop a strategy that will modernise and safeguard the future of An Post. Rural areas, in particular, must be reassured that there is a future for their post offices and that we in the Fine Gael Party will do everything in our power to ensure there is a bright future for the postal network.