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Public Participation Networks - Launch of the 2018 Annual Report
Involving people in making the decisions that affect them and their lives is a core principle of democracy. 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.
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. By the end of 2018, over 14,800 community and voluntary, social inclusion and environmental organisations were members of a PPN. Over 900 PPN representatives were elected to over 370 committees on issues such as strategic policy, local community development, joint policing and so on.
This 2018 Annual Report highlights the successes of the PPNs and their membership, the huge volume of work undertaken by each network to support their communities and makes a series of recommedations to enhance the capacity of the community and voluntary sector.