Minister for Posts and Telegraphs

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The original logo of the department, including the Tironian et symbol, is still often seen on early postboxes and other older property.
Pre-1984 manhole cover showing the PT logo

The Minister for Posts and Telegraphs (Irish: Aire Poist agus Telegrafa) was the holder of a senior position in the Government of Ireland (and, earlier, in the Executive Council of the Irish Free State). From 1924 until 1984 – when it was abolished – the minister headed the Department of Posts and Telegraphs (also known as the P&T in English and PT in Irish, and later stylised as P+T).

The office of Minister for Posts and Telegraphs was created by the Ministers and Secretaries Act, 1924, which reorganised the Irish system of government. The minister assumed in the Irish Free State those functions which had formerly been exercised by the Postmaster General of the United Kingdom. Legislation in 1831 had amalgamated the earlier offices of Postmaster General of Great Britain and Postmasters General of Ireland, which became a jointly held role in the administration of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.

This later and final version of the logo of the department was most commonly associated with the orange and white postal vans.

The Ministers and Secretaries Act, Section (1), Part (ix) defines the department's role:

The Department of Posts and Telegraphs which shall comprise the administration and business generally of public services in connection with posts, telegraphs, and telephones, and all powers, duties and functions connected with the same, and shall include in particular the business, powers, duties and functions of the branches and officers of the public services specified in the Eighth Part of the Schedule to this Act, and of which Department the head shall be, and shall be styled, an t-Aire Puist agus Telegrafa or (in English) the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs.

— Ministers and Secretaries Act, Section (1), Part (ix)

The Minister for Posts and Telegraphs was responsible for Ireland's postal and telecommunications services from 1924 to 1984. At its height the department was one of the largest civil service departments in Ireland. The reform of the sector and department began in 1978 with the creation of the Posts and Telegraphs Review Group. This led, following the delivery of a report in 1979, to the creation of the ad hoc Interim Board for Posts (An Bord Poist), chaired by Feargal Quinn, and the Interim Board for Telecommunications (An Bord Telecom), chaired by Michael Smurfit. These two boards continued to sit until An Post and Telecom Éireann, respectively, replaced them. These two state-sponsored agencies were created in 1984.

The Department of Posts and Telegraphs ceased to exist at that time, and its powers and responsibilities were transferred to the newly created Department of Communications. This was one of the largest reorganisations of the civil service in modern times, the old department having had a workforce of about 30,000 prior to dissolution. With the transfer of personnel to the new agencies, the number of civil service employees was almost halved overnight.

The Minister for Communications was created in 1983 to replace the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs. In 1991 the minister's functions were passed to the renamed Minister for Tourism, Transport and Communications and the department ceased to exist. The functions are now with the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment.

Statutes[edit]

Statute Effect
Ministers and Secretaries Act, 1924 Establishment of the Department of Posts and Telegraphs
Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) Act, 1983 Establishment of the Department of Communications
Abolition of the Department of Posts and Telegraphs
Transfer of functions to the Department of Communications
S.I. No. 26/1991 - Communications (Transfer of Departmental Administration and Ministerial Functions) Order, 1991 Transfer of functions to the Department of Tourism, Transport and Communications

List of office-holders[edit]

Postmaster General 1922–1924[edit]

No. Name Term of office Party
James J. Walsh 1 April 1922 2 June 1924 Cumann na nGaedheal

Minister for Posts and Telegraphs 1924–1984[edit]

No. Name Term of office Party
1. James J. Walsh 2 June 1924 12 October 1927 Cumann na nGaedheal
2. Ernest Blythe 12 October 1927 9 March 1932 Cumann na nGaedheal
3. Joseph Connolly 9 March 1932 8 February 1933 Fianna Fáil
4. Gerald Boland 8 February 1933 11 November 1936 Fianna Fáil
5. Oscar Traynor 11 November 1936 8 September 1939 Fianna Fáil
6. Thomas Derrig 8 September 1939 27 September 1939 Fianna Fáil
7. Patrick Little 27 September 1939 18 February 1948 Fianna Fáil
8. James Everett 18 February 1948 13 June 1951 National Labour Party
9. Erskine H. Childers (1st time) 13 June 1951 2 June 1954 Fianna Fáil
10. Michael Keyes 2 June 1954 20 March 1957 Labour Party
11. Neil Blaney 20 March 1957 4 December 1957 Fianna Fáil
12. John Ormonde 4 December 1957 23 June 1959 Fianna Fáil
13. Michael Hilliard 23 June 1959 21 April 1965 Fianna Fáil
14. Joseph Brennan 21 April 1965 10 November 1966 Fianna Fáil
Erskine H. Childers (2nd time) 10 November 1966 2 July 1969 Fianna Fáil
15. Patrick Lalor 2 July 1969 9 May 1970 Fianna Fáil
16. Gerry Collins 9 May 1970 14 March 1973 Fianna Fáil
17. Conor Cruise O'Brien 14 March 1973 5 July 1977 Labour Party
18. Pádraig Faulkner 5 July 1977 11 December 1979 Fianna Fáil
19. Albert Reynolds 12 December 1979 30 June 1981 Fianna Fáil
20. Patrick Cooney 30 June 1981 9 March 1982 Fine Gael
21. John Wilson 9 March 1982 14 December 1982 Fianna Fáil
22. Jim Mitchell 14 December 1982 2 January 1984 Fine Gael

Minister for Communications 1984–91[edit]

1. Jim Mitchell 2 January 1984 10 March 1987 Fine Gael
2. John Wilson 10 March 1987 31 March 1987 Fianna Fáil
3. Ray Burke 31 March 1987 6 February 1991 Fianna Fáil