A limited mail service between Dublin and London was in existence as early as 1561. However, the initial development of the service began in 1638 when post-stages were organised between Dublin and other major towns. In 1711 a unified post office was created covering Ireland and Britain. The introduction of the penny post in 1840 greatly increased the volume of mail. Responsibility for postal services was taken over by the Department of Posts and Telegraphs in 1922, which administered the system until the establishment of An Post in 1984.
An Post, a state-owned company, operates the national postal service and has an extensive network of post offices. It directly employs almost 8,000 people, with 3,000 more involved in sub-offices. The companyís turnover in 1993 was almost IR£272 million, from which it made a profit before taxation of over IR£7 million. Over one million items of mail are handled each day. They are delivered from Monday to Friday to households and businesses throughout the country, with a rate of over 94 per cent next-day delivery of first-class mail. On the retail side, over IR£3 billion worth of transactions are carried out each year at almost 2,000 post offices throughout the country. These transactions include the payment of pensions and other welfare benefits, bill payment services, licence sales, savings services etc.
Special facilities for business users include Postaim, offering reduced rates for bulk posting of addressed advertising material and Publicity Post, for the delivery of unaddressed advertising matter. Other services include SDS-Special Distribution Services - a dedicated business unit through which An Post now provides all its services for parcel and urgent document distribution. Post GEM is the companyís electronic communications subsidiary. An Post also provides banking and foreign exchange facilities at most company offices.
Telecom …ireann, established in 1984 as a commercial State enterprise, provides telecommunications services to 1.17 million subscribers.The telecommunications network is one of the most digitalised in the world, offering national and international voice, mobile, data, value added and integrated services. IR£2.5 billion has been invested in the system over the past 15 years. A further IR£750 million will be invested over the next 5 years to maintain and improve the technological sophistication of the infrastructure and to expand services. With a turnover of IR£871 million in 1993/4, and profits of IR£81 million, Telecom …ireann is ranked among Irelandís "Top 10" companies.
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