Making a meal out of the mail
Tuesday, 19 March 2013
HERE'S a conundrum for you puzzle fans out there.
How do you turn a journey of less than 15 miles into one of almost 700 miles?
Just ask former South Down MLA PJ Bradley who was left scratching his head when a letter he posted to a friend just across the border in Mount Pleasant, Dundalk was returned to him.
Except this time the envelope had a sticker on the front claiming he hadn't paid enough Airmail postage.
“There isn't enough postage on this Airmail item so we are returning it to you," the sticker reads.
“To resend it, please take it (with this label still in place) to a Post Office branch and pay the missing postage."
The sticker also had a number that could be called in case of queries.
The Newry Democrat called this number and we were told that letters posted to the south, no matter how close to the border they are posted from, are sent to Belfast.
From Belfast they are flown to Heathrow in London for sorting before being flown on to Dublin and delivered from there.
Turning a journey of around 14 miles into one of around 690.
The Customer Service representative also advised us that for short distances across the border we would be better off delivering the letter ourselves.
When the Democrat contacted the Royal Mail press office about this, spokeswoman Felicity MacFarlane claimed that letters are only sent to Heathrow if they are under paid and that all other cross-border mail is driven from Belfast to Dublin.
This, however, only makes Mr Bradley's Airmail letter all the more confusing.
“Mail items for destinations outside the UK are subject to different payment rules," she said.
“The Republic of Ireland is a member of the EU, with its own postal administration, and is therefore treated the same as any other European country in terms of tariffs.
“You do not need an airmail sticker to send mail to the Republic of Ireland but you do need to use a European postage stamp.
“Royal Mail is committed to providing excellent high performance levels in its cross-border services, as we do in all our mail operations." A former party colleague of Mr Bradley's and the current SDLP MLA for Newry and Armagh, Dominic Bradley, expressed his amazement at the situation.
“This is an absolutely crazy situation where a letter going a few miles is being flown half way across these islands," he said.
“It makes no sense considering we have daily train and bus services to Dundalk from Newry.
“I will be raising this issue with the postal services in both jurisdictions with a view to achieving a sensible outcome."
Sinn Fein councillor Valerie Harte went one step further calling for the implementation of an All-Ireland postal service.
“This case further highlights some
of the nonsense that people who live
in the border area have to face every day," she said.
“It is now time for an All-Ireland postal service to create a more efficient and cost saving service for all the people of Ireland."
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