Public Participation Network Structural Review Report

Posted on Friday, 24 June 2022
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PPN Review Report
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The Department of Rural and Community Development recently published the PPN Structural Review Report. Stakeholders have been asked to submit views on the Report by the end of August 2022.


In 2014, the Local Government Act was amended to introduce Public Participation Networks (PPNs). The PPN recognises the contribution of volunteer-led organisations to local economic, social, and environmental capital. It facilitates input by these organisations into local government through a structure that ensures public participation and representation on decision-making committees within local government. These PPNs have been established in every local authority area in Ireland. 


Local authorities and PPNs work together collaboratively to support communities and build the capacity of member organisations to engage meaningfully on issues that concern them. PPNs have a significant role in the development and education of their member groups, sharing information, promoting best practice, and facilitating networking. By bringing local knowledge and expertise to decision making groups, they work to ensure that many different viewpoints are heard, ensuring more robust outcomes and ultimately better communities. Local authorities also have a vital role to play in facilitating participation through open consultative processes and active engagement.

In 2021, on foot of the commitment made in the Programme for Government to “carry out a comprehensive review of Public Participation Networks to ensure that they are fit for purpose for climate action and community development”, the Department of Rural and Community Development commissioned an independent review of the Public Participation Network structures.




The aim of the review was to:

  • Consider the operation of the PPN network to date
  • Identify opportunities for further strengthening PPNs
  • Make recommendations for the future development of PPNs
  • Provide community groups with the means to effectively and meaningfully input into, and contribute to the local decision making process
  • Consider the impact of the supports provided to PPNs by the DRCD, Local Authorities, and other sources to enable PPNs to fulfil their purpose effectively.

Findings and Recommendations 

Governance & Accountability

  • Finding - Slow pace of action to address issues and implement change in line with recommendations arising from previous reviews and reports
  • Recommendation - Take a ‘back to basics’ approach and prioritise action
  • Finding - Lack of consistency in the implementation of mandatory PPN requirements and guidance
  • Recommendation - : Clarify mandatory requirements and proactively address non-compliance
  • Finding - Not all PPNs are operating independently
  • Recommendation - Review structures to ensure independence is maintained
  • Finding - Differences in culture evident across the PPNs
  • Recommendation - Establish trust and respect that makes collective action possible

Communication & Engagement

  • Finding - Lack of visibility, understanding and awareness of PPNs
  • Recommendation - Introduce a PPN wide communication structure that improves the visibility and accessibility of PPNs
  • Finding - Confusion around roles and dilution of responsibilities
  • Recommendation - Simplify roles and responsibilities to provide clearer descriptions for stakeholders
  • Finding - COVID-19 impact on interaction across the PPNs
  • Recommendation - Embrace opportunities for flexible models of engagement

Coordination & Participation

  • Finding - Difficulties in recruitment and retention of a diverse range of members and representatives
  • Recommendation - Minimise the barriers to participation experienced to achieve greater partnership in participation
  • Finding - Limitations in stakeholder relationships can impact the overall success of a PPN
  • Recommendation - Strengthen relationships and improve communication and engagement between PPNs and stakeholders
  • Finding - Lack of coordination within and between structures can result in missed opportunities
  • Recommendation - Introduce a PPN wide coordination structure

Training, Delivery & Supports

  • Finding - Inconsistent approach to delivery across PPNs
  • Recommendation - Develop a ‘PPN Way’ of addressing and delivering the role of PPNs
  • Finding - Significant duplication is occurring across the PPNs
  • Recommendation - : Adopt a ‘one and done’ approach to activities
  • Finding - Limited capacity for current and new activities
  • Recommendation - Clarify expectations of PPNs and provide necessary support to address issues of national importance

Staffing & Skills

  • Finding - Challenges arising from differences in staff skills
  • Recommendation - Clarify staff requirements and address gaps in skills and competencies
  • Finding - Challenges arising from differences in staff terms and conditions
  • Recommendation - Further consider employee Terms & Conditions
  • Finding - Challenges arising from staff turnover
  • Recommendation - Provide more proactive and coordinated HR support

Future PPN Structure Options

  • Simplify and create a National coordination structure.
  • Create a National coordination, communication and support structure.
  • Create a National independent structure to lead and support local PPNs.

Whatever changes lies ahead, the PPNs must be supported and resourced to continue the vital work they do. The recent and ongoing uncertainties we face as a society mean the PPNs are more important than ever both at local, community level and nationally. 

The Full Report can be accessed HERE.