Government establishes Working group on Citizen Engagement with Local Government

Posted on Monday, 30 September 2013

The Department of Environment, Community and Local government has established a working group on Citizen Engagement with Local Government to make recommendations on more extensive and diverse input by citizens into decision-making processes and to allow for facilitation of input by citizens into decision making at the local government level.

Working Group on Citizen Engagement with local government:
Sean Healy [Chair]
Seamus Boland [Pobal]
Michael Ewing [Environment Group]
Liam Keane  [Pobal Board Member]
Deirdre Garvey [The Wheel]
Sinead Carr [DOS Sth Tipp CoCo] 
Sean McLaughlin (DECLG) and
Robin Hanan [Community Platform]

Working Group on Citizen Engagement and Local Government

Terms of Reference

Main Aims

To make recommendations that provide for:

  • More extensive and diverse input by citizens into the decision-making process at local government level
  • Facilitation of input by citizens into decision making at local government level.

The Working Group will consider four main areas of work:

  1. Definitions and Guiding Principles:
  • Present clear definitions of citizen engagement, using national and international expertise and best practice
  • Agree a number of clear guiding principles to inform enhanced citizen engagement.
  • Outline the potential for increased participation and shared responsibility that would accompany increased citizen engagement.
  1.  Review:
  • Review the relevant recommendations on citizen engagement from the report of the Taskforce on Active Citizenship (2007).
  1. Access and Support Infrastructure:
  • Recommend a participatory mechanism for citizens in the new Local Government structures, that will ensure
    • citizen input into decision making,
    • clear and transparent structures for the selection of representatives and
    • accountability of representatives to their wider communities and groups. 
  • Set out the resources, tools and mechanisms to enable this infrastructure to be established and develop; this should include details on:
    • the agreement required,
    • the voting structures to be used and
    • other relevant issues identified by the group.

In this context identify the resource requirements to support communities of interest to actively participate.

  • Outline a comprehensive capacity building programme for citizen engagement to include possible joint arrangements between citizens and relevant stakeholders.
  • Consider further the application and implementation of options in Putting People First including:
    • “Participatory Budgeting; Petition Rights; Plebiscites; Town or Area meetings.”
  • Devise and outline mechanisms to ensure the engagement of the most disadvantaged.
  • Identify ways to strengthen and enhance local authority relationships with local groups.
  • Propose ways of addressing barriers to participation.
  • Outline the role of technology, and in particular social media, in citizen engagement.
  • Actively inform the guidance to be prepared by DECLG for local authorities on proposed approaches to citizen engagement. In this context provide guidance on how the Local Government Reform legislation could provide for local authorities to draft Citizens Charters to outline how they will facilitate better engagement with their citizens.
  1. Feedback mechanisms:
  • Propose a spectrum for on-going feedback on citizen engagement.
  • Outline ways to measure and evaluate citizen feedback.
  • To ensure accountability of representatives to their wider communities and groups, propose a mechanism for monitoring and supporting citizen participation in local government. This mechanism should have the capacity to facilitate
    • citizen feedback,
    • development of best practice models , 
    • attendance and performance monitoring, and
    • other issues the Committee may consider relevant in this context.