Ireland’s first national post-code service has been launched today amid criticism from industry and language figures who said it is irrelevant and incomplete.
Eircode, which cost €27m to set up, gives every home and business in the country its own seven-digit code and aims at reducing confusion surrounding non-unique addresses. These account for some 35pc of Irish addresses, particularly in rural areas where many homes just have the townland as its given address.
Most other countries use a code that identifies a group of properties in a small area, but Eircode said its system is a more advanced one with a unique Eircode for every home and business address, which will help everyone find addresses easier.
But this means that while the first three digits of your code will be very similar to your neighbour’s, the last four digits will be very different.
More than two million homes and businesses across the country will receive their new code in the post in the coming weeks.
Every household will be notified of their Eircode, which will see current postcodes like Dublin 1 becoming D01, while Galway gets H.
The Eircode system will be optional, so homes do not have to use their codes if they do not want to. The new postcodes will not eliminate any existing addresses, just get tagged onto the end of the existing address.
However, the system has come in for heavy criticism from some industry figures, and many have questioned its need since the system is optional.
The Irish Fire and Emergency Services Association have warned the random nature of the codes could “cost lives” as its design cannot be learned and codes are not predictable so that emergency services can find localities easily from memory.
Companies such as FedEx, DHL, UPS, Pallet Express, and BOC Ireland have all publicly declared that they will not use Eircode due to its design.
Meanwhile, Conradh naGaeilge has claimed up to 50,000 place names are inaccurate or completely missing from the database because they are in Irish.
It called on Communications Minister Alex White, who anounced the code, to fund a plan, prepared by a working group of stakeholders, to rectify the problem over two years.
What the new code means
An Eircode is seven-character alpha-numeric code made up of two parts.
The first three digits are called a Routing Key, which defines a principal area of delivery.
In Dublin this will be the most familiar part of the code because it relates back to the old postcode.
Dublin 1 becomes D01, while Dublin 24 becomes D24. Cork will begin with the letter T while Galway will begin with H.
The last four digits are called a Unique Identifier.
This unique code for each address distinguishes it from others nearby, something which has more relevance in rural areas.