Minister O’Brien Launches Social Justice Ireland Report on Public Participation Networks

29th January, 2021

Fingal PPN had highest participation rate in report research

Minister Joe O’Brien of State for Community Development and Charities and T.D for Fingal, has launched a report by Social Justice Ireland (SJI) detailing the level of work and involvement of Public Participation Networks around the country. The purpose of this research was to capture how the various PPN stakeholders engaged in the participation processes ‘on the ground’ in order to further support and enhance participation in local decision-making through more active engagement.

As part of the research a survey was conducted amongst PPNs to capture the ‘on the ground’ experience of PPN Workers, Representatives and Local Authority staff who engage with Committees and Boards at Local Authority level.

On the findings detailed in the report Minister O’Brien said,

“The Fingal PPN, with a membership comprising of representation from the Community and Voluntary, Social Inclusion and Environmental sectors is firmly established and recognised as the main conduit by which our Council engages with our communities across the county. Because of this strong and active PPN it is not surprising to see that the group had the highest participation rate as part of the survey conducted.”

“It’s important to acknowledge that most respondents, and indeed most PPN stakeholders in Fingal, are volunteers who work in their own time on behalf of the volunteer-run groups that are members of the PPN. The fact that they took time from other commitments to respond to a survey of this nature is a great testament to their dedication to public participation in county related matters.”

“The report by Social Justice Ireland has brought to light some very interesting findings. It is extremely positive to see that a clear majority of respondents agree that local authorities are actively encouraging participation by the PPN, and a majority regard decision-making processes in the Local Authority as open and accessible. Overall, a majority of the respondents also agree that the relationship between the Local Authority and PPN is based on transparency, respect and mutual reliability. This is particularly true within Fingal County Council as they have always strove to fully embrace the concept and purpose of the PPN which is a credit to both Council personnel and the PPN volunteers.”

“I was encouraged to note the research indicated that Many respondents have agreed that their Local Authority is engaging in real dialogue with the PPN at different stages of the decision-making process. It must also be said that the report has identified some areas that need improvement and my Department will certainly be looking how we can support improvements in these areas, however the overall national picture portrayed in this report shows PPNs moving in a very positive direction where public participation is concerned.”