Structure established nationally to encourage citizens to take an active role in decision making at local government level
A working group report in 2013 “Citizen Engagement with Local Government” recommended more input by citizens into decision making at local government level. This led to the establishment of the Public Participation Network under the Local Government Act 2014.
The PPN as a practice reaches its objectives by facilitating the participation of communities on decision making bodies through the forums of environment, social inclusion, community and voluntary. It aims to develop the capacity of groups and communities to contribute in a positive manner to the local communities in which they reside and work and to provide information to groups and act as a link around which information can be distributed and received. In Donegal there are 487 registered groups with 53 representatives on 22 committees. Stakeholders are all citizens of an area.
There is 1 full time Resource Worker employed. Funding is split between the Department of Rural and Community Development (€50,000) and Donegal County Council (€30,000). This covers salary, administrative costs and expenses.
The Resource Worker attended over 60 meetings in 2017.
Evidence of success
This practice is considered to be a good practice because it functions as the “go to” organisation for all local authorities who wish to benefit from community and voluntary expertise in their area. It allows all voices and opinions, however diverse, to be heard equally. The PPN structure encourages an active community body.
Potential for learning or transfer
The PPN was established as a result of a national Working Group evidence based research which demonstrated a need for greater citizen involvement in local authority decision making. The structure is cross sectoral and through the Linkage groups, permits engagement for all members of society. The practice is interesting for other regions as a starting point for community engagement and a demonstration of the benefits of inclusiveness. The result is more transparent, better informed and improved decision making.
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