It gives me great pleasure to be here to launch Eircodes – and also to unveil Eircode Finder, the application that will help our citizens and businesses to get the best out of Ireland's new postcode.
The introduction of a postcode has been on the agenda of successive Governments. This administration has now brought us to a position where Ireland will join every other country in the EU – and the OECD – in having this important, modern infrastructure.
Like those other countries, we recognise the many benefits that Eircodes will bring to citizens, communities and business. From today:
- It will be easier for the parcel delivery man and the post-woman to deliver your mail to the correct recipient.
- It will be easier to shop online.
- Businesses that deliver parcels – or other goods and services – will have an affordable and effective new tool, which accurately identifies addresses and enables improved efficiency.
- In this way, our smart, modern postcode system will boost economic growth by streamlining operations, and facilitating more focused delivery of services by government and business alike.
- A wide range of public services will be delivered more efficiently – improving quality and planning, while reducing costs.
- Emergency services will be able to find the correct address more quickly, particularly in rural areas.
- All of us will be better able to accurately identify addresses, including the 35% of Irish premises that currently share their address with one or more others.
It is an affordable system for citizens and small businesses, who can use the Eircode Finder – free of charge – to locate as many as 15 Eircodes a day. I am happy to announce that this online tool is now live, with free access for all. The Eircode team will give a demonstration in a few moments.
Manageable commercial rates for medium-sized and larger businesses, who need access to more addresses, will enable them to improve their business planning and delivery at a reasonable cost.
The seven digit code is easy to remember and use. You simply add the Eircode to the end of your current address – which doesn't change – whatever way you choose to express it.
Legislation has been put in place to underpin the protection of individual data. And, while it is not compulsory to use the code, I believe that its benefits will lead to its universal adoption – just as it has in scores of other countries with voluntary post codes.
Eircodes is a system that's appropriate to Ireland. In particular, it overcomes the challenge of finding addresses in a country where 35% of premises share their address with one or more other properties. And it deals with the reality that many of us use multiple forms of address for the same premises.
Advances in technology have allowed us to adopt a unique identifier for every current and future address in Ireland. We have leapfrogged older designs, like the one used in the UK, and this has allowed us to avoid:
- Requiring people to change the way they express their address
- Naming every road in the country
- Putting a number to every house in the country
- And constantly changing people's post codes as new properties are built.
Such an approach would have been unacceptable to Irish citizens and business, and we have achieved an appropriate system that avoids these complications and inconveniences.
Individual Eircodes are being delivered to every address in Ireland from today. This is a major logistical exercise, which involves the delivery of some 2.2 million letters over a two week period. Advertisements are now appearing in regional papers, telling people to expect these letters. A national TV advertising campaign also begins today.
In short, Ireland now has a postcode system.
A number of individuals and organisations have worked hard to make this happen. I want to acknowledge the work of the Postcode Steering Group. Over the last 18 months it has supported my Departmental team, which has also laboured incredibly hard to deliver this project. That work included a transparent tendering process and consultation with over 60 stakeholder groups.
A very wide range of public service departments, agencies and organisations have contributed to the preparations, and they are ready to start using Eircodes over the coming weeks. On top of the intrinsic benefits this will bring to service providers, their early adoption will also play an important part in raising public awareness of Eircodes and their benefits.
I put in place an Eircode Community Outreach Programme to inform and advise specific groups and communities that might have particular issues or concerns over the introduction of Eircodes. Coordinated by The Wheel and Rural Link, this programme has worked in our communities to help tens of thousands of people.
Local Eircode champions have mobilised over 8,000 outreach volunteers in over 3,000 community organisations like GAA clubs, Community Alert, Active Retirement and rural transport groups. I thank you all for your magnificent efforts.
An Post has been equally supportive in getting the project to launch. This is further evidence that An Post is investing and modernising to meet the challenges of the future. From today, the company will be delivering the Eircode to addresses across the country.
I also want to recognise Capita's innovative and collaborative approach to project implementation since the company won the licence to operate the postcode system over the next 10 years.
So, finally, it gives me great pleasure to launch Eircodes. I look forward to seeing citizens, businesses, public services, and other organisations embrace this new tool. I think it will make all our lives a little bit easier and a little bit better.