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Participation

‘Social Justice Matters Policy Brief’ is a series designed to provide independent and in-depth analysis on important social policy issues and to present policy options that should be prioritised in the coming years.  In this issue we look at the importance of community and participation, at local, regional and national levels. 


Citizen participation and building real engagement at local level is vital to re-engage people in the democratic process.  Ensuring that people are involved in making the decisions that affect them and their communities is a key element of real democracy. True involvement requires participation that goes beyond voting and representative democracy.


The National Economic and Social Council (NESC) have published a review of Community Call, the programme which delivered co-ordinated support to vulnerable people remaining at home during Covid-19 lockdowns.  Community Call is an experiment in partnership between national and local government, and the community and voluntary sector.  It delivered the state organised and community-based support programme for those aged over 70 and the medically vulnerable during Covid-19. 

Since early 2014, the PPNs have evolved, from the initial Introduction Period, through the Development Period to the Consolidation Period (Bourke, 2017) and are now firmly established and recognised as the main conduit by which Local Authorities engage with their communities, with a membership of more than 15,000 organisations from the Community and Voluntary, Social Inclusion and Environmental sectors (Department of Rural and Community Development, 2019). This research is based on a survey of relevant stakeholders and their experience of the participation processes at local government level. 

'Building a New Social Contract – Policy Recommendations’ contains more than eighty specific policy recommendations that would go a considerable direction towards a new social contract to improve the quality of life and wellbeing of everyone and ensure that a no-one is left behind as our economy and society recovers from the impact of Covid-19.

How normal was the world before Covid-19? The last decade has been anything but normal – whether viewed at national or European level, or in broader geopolitical terms.  We, as a planet, face a choice between attempting to develop responses cognitively through a new dialogue, political and social, or simply marching on, brainless, based on some notion of the old normal.

Today (19th November 2020), the Department of Rural and Community Development launched the PPN Handbook and the PPN Annual Report 2019Social Justice Ireland was delighted to be involved in the development of both of these documents and warmly welcome their publication.

Tuesday, 15th September 2020 was UN Day of Democracy. Here we take a look at how Public Participation Networks help to deliver deliberative democracy for more capable communities and a sustainable society.

The COVID-19 crisis highlighted, among other things, the importance of community and a community-based response.  Yet this importance is often not reflected in the decision-making processes that affect those communities.  While the draft Programme for Government makes welcome reference to Social Dialogue at national level, there is a role for local level Social Dialogue also.

Community volunteers have rightly been in receipt of high praise for their response to the COVID-19 crisis.  This community spirit is to be commended, however harnessing that engagement for real social change remains a challenge in the context of a highly centralised Government structure. 

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