The Minister of State with responsibility for Community Development and Charities, Mr. Joe O’Brien, TD, today (19 November 2020) launched the 2019 Annual Report of the Public Participation Networks. This is the fourth Annual Report on the Public Participation Networks (PPNs), which were established to facilitate active citizen participation in policymaking at local authority level. The report provides a positive reflection of the variety of work done as well as showing continued growth throughout the country.
Speaking about the launch of the annual report Minister O’Brien said: “This report shows that PPNs are having the desired impact and have achieved a huge amount in the short space of time since they were founded in 2014. The report also shows that there were 15,599 voluntary groups registered to the Network in 2019. At a national level, 928 PPN representatives gave volunteer-led groups a voice on 424 local authority boards or committees in 2019. This clearly demonstrates that PPNs are continuing to be a success.”
Regarding the increase in membership, Minister O’Brien added: “These figures are a great indicator of the vibrancy and energy of the community and voluntary sector in Ireland, especially at a local level, and the role played by PPNs in local policy making and networking.”
PPNs are continuing to have a positive relationship with local authorities and are collaborating on a number of projects. For example, Limerick PPN is running a number of events in relation to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the Public Sector Duty and supporting public participation in local democratic processes.
The 2019 Annual Report highlights further examples of PPN activities and impacts.
Minister O’Brien said: “These examples demonstrate the initiative and drive of PPN members, with activities ranging from contributing to local Strategic Policy Committees to holding events on matters such as community safety, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and rural policy. Several PPNs consulted with and welcomed international protection applicants, while others focussed on making public spaces accessible to people with disabilities. And this is only a small sample of the important ways in which they contribute to their localities.”
PPNs thrive on the principle of community engagement. They regularly hold workshops and public consultations to facilitate this engagement, which is making a tangible difference and strengthening communities around the country. For instance, thanks to Limerick PPN, this year eight online public consultation events were held in relation to the Directly Elected Mayor for Limerick.
The commitment displayed by the PPN resource workers, support workers, secretariat members and the member groups is visible throughout the report and their value can be seen in the increased level of citizen participation.
In conclusion, the Minister also acknowledged the work that PPNs carried out during the Covid-19 outbreak: “PPNs have been pivotal in organising the community response and ensuring that the needs of vulnerable people were met during this period of uncertainty. I am grateful for their work in this area and I am committed to make sure that the Public Participation Network in this country goes from strength to strength.”
The report can be downloaded from the Department of Rural and Community Development website.