Minister O’Brien launches 2019 Public Participation Network Annual Report

Report shows 15,600 voluntary  groups registered to the Network in 2019

The Minister of State with responsibility for Community Development and Charities, Mr. Joe O’Brien, TD, today (19th November 2020) launched the Public Participation Networks Annual Report 2019.

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.”

On December 31st, 2019 the Galway City Community Network membership counted 128 groups and organisations, 76 in the Social Inclusion Pillar, 11 in the Environmental Pillar and 41 in the Community/Voluntary Pillar.

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, they are raising awareness of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and influencing policy to assist in achieving them at a local level.

Other PPNs are using their member groups’ experience to help local authorities improve accessibility for people with disabilities and dementia and to help people from marginalised communities to sit on local authority boards. The 2019 Annual Report highlights further examples of PPN activities and impacts.

In 2019 GCCN, GCCN worked closely with the LCDC and Galway City Council to facilitate the review of the Local
Economic and Community Plan (LECP) 2015-2021 and the development of a new LECP Implementation Plan 2020-2021. GCCN also worked closely and collaboratively with Galway City Council, Galway City Partnership and the HSE as an active
member of the Healthy Galway Steering Group in the development and implementation of the Healthy Galway City Strategy.

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 example, in 2019 GCCN took a lead role in the establishment of #EqualityVotesGalway (#EVG) a consortium of local organisations, GCCN members, that work collaboratively on equality issues. GCCN also co-facilitated two sessions on the Community Enhancement Programme with Galway City Council and Galway City Partnership to support member organisations interested in applying for funding.

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.”

Since the onset of the Covid-19 alert, GCCN continued to participate in the meetings of the Galway City Community Response Forum, has been working to update the Community Response Map and continues to circulate regular COVID-19 related communications to both GCCN members and non-members through the weekly newsletter.

Download here the Public Participation Networks Annual Report 2019

Further details:

A PPN is a network for Community and Voluntary, Social Inclusion and Environmental groups in each local authority area. PPNs allow local authorities to connect with volunteer-run groups around the country. As a result, PPNs provide a mechanism by which citizens can have a greater say in local government decisions that affect their own communities.

PPNs provide the voice of the community for local authority boards and committees. Where a local authority requires a representative from the community to sit on their boards or committees such as Strategic Policy Committees or Local Development (LCDCs), they must source this representative from the PPN. PPNs work to enable the community to be represented in decision-making processes that impact citizens through representation on council committees, consultation processes, policy submissions and more.

The PPN is therefore the “go to” for all local authorities who wish to benefit from community and voluntary expertise in their area