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Public Participation Networks

‘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. 


Public participation lies at the heart of the social contract, which has not always been a given in relation to environmental decision-making. Individuals and communities have come together to organise, mobilise and use legal mechanisms where necessary to protect their environment, working tirelessly to have their voices heard, whether they were formally invited to participate or not.

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.

Minister Seán Canney TD, Minister for State in the Department of Rural and Community Development, yesterday launched the 2018 Annual Report of the Public Participation Networks (PPNs).  The PPNs are an independent network of community organisations, established in every Local Authority area, which supports meaningful democratic participation in their communities.  Social Justice Ireland were delighted to support the Department in drafting the 2018 Annual Report which provides detail on the huge body of work undertaken by each of the PPNs on behalf of almost 15,000 member organisations.

In this edition of our National Social Monitor, Social Justice Ireland looks at the budgets of each of the 31 Local Authorities and analyses where the money was spent, and where it wasn’t, to assess the priorities of local government. 

Public Participation Networks (PPNs), made up of groups and organisations from the Environmental, Social Inclusion, and Community & Voluntary sectors, are influencing policy at a local and national level. And who knows what’s best for their communities better than local people themselves?

The Government has failed to respond adequately to our nation’s housing crisis. There are almost 87,000 households on social housing waiting lists - over half of whom are families - and 10,000 homeless, of whom 3,600 are children. This is a national emergency. The impact of homelessness and precarious housing on our nation’s children will be felt for generations to come.

With 10,000 people - including 3,600 children - homeless, 72,000 mortgages in arrears, and 87,000 households on social housing waiting lists, it can hardly be denied that Government policy is a dramatic failure.

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