Public Participation Networks - Launch of the 2020 Annual Report

Posted on Friday, 7 January 2022
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In 2014, the Local Government Act was amended to introduce Public Participation Networks (PPNs). They were set up to provide a mechanism by which citizens can have a greater say in local government decisions which affect their own communities. 

Real participation goes beyond voting (representative democracy) to a situation where people and government work in partnership to co-create infrastructure and services, solve problems and work towards the well-being of all in this generation and the generations to come (deliberative democracy).  By definition, such an approach requires a leaving aside of power differentials, and making a specific effort to ensure that the voices and views of people who are not traditionally influential are heard and taken into account.

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.  By the end of 2020, over 17,530 community and voluntary, social inclusion and environmental organisations were members of a PPN.  Over 940 PPN representatives were elected to over 410 committees on issues such as strategic policy, local community development, joint policing and so on.

In the foreword by Minister of State with responsibility for Community Development and Charities, Minister Joe O'Brien states that "2020 was a year like no other. Throughout cities and counties nationwide, PPNs began the year with business as normal – holding regular workshops and public consultations, facilitating networking and engagement, and discussing the issues impacting on their local communities. However, by mid-March 2020, Ireland had to adapt to a new normal. The Covid-19 pandemic which had travelled halfway across the world had finally arrived on our shores and as a result changed the way we lived our lives. With the pandemic continuing to impact on our communities and disrupting our daily lives, the PPNs rose to the challenges it presented to deliver for our communities. They mobilised their volunteer groups to assist in the national response. PPN staff and volunteers played their part by staffing helplines to guide community members to local resources, assisting in the delivery of food to needy and hard to reach communities, engaging in mapping exercises to inform communities of where services were available, and collating and distributing vital contact lists throughout the counties, among other activities. PPNs nationwide have continued to carry out other valuable projects for their local communities, such as health-related campaigns, environmental workshops, and reports on disability. Many of these wonderful initiatives undertaken in 2020 are outlined in more detail in this report."

The full text of the PPN Annual Report 2020 is available HERE.

PPN Annual Report 2020