Why were PPN’s set up
The Working Group on Citizen Engagement was set up by the Government in September 2013 under the chairmanship of Fr. Sean Healy. The role of this Group was to make recommendations to ensure more extensive and diverse input by citizens into local government decision making. The Group proposed that a “Public Participation Network” be established in each local authority area to enable the public to take an active formal role in relevant policy making and committees of the Local Authority”.
In 2014, in response to these recommendations, Public Participation Networks were set up in each local authority area in Ireland under Section 46 of the Local Government Reform Act 2014. The aim of this was to provide a “framework for public participation in local government,……….. by which citizens and communities will be encouraged and supported to participate in the decision-making processes of the local authority”*.
Setting up the PPN in Limerick
The PPN was set up by Limerick City & County Council in January 2015 with the support of an external Working Group. This Working Group was made up of people with considerable skills and experience in the areas of public participation and community engagement, as follows:
- Dr. Chris McInerney, University of Limerick
- Catherine Smyth, Ballyhoura Developmen
- Karen O’Donnell O’Connor, PAUL Partnership
- Juan Carlos Azzopardi, Limerick City Community Development Project
- Paul Moriarty, Limerick Volunteer Centre (West Limerick Resources)
- Alice McAuliffe, former Limerick Community & Voluntary Forum
- Toni Gleeson, Disability Federation of Ireland
- Cora Foley, Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board
- Sinead Doody, Social Inclusion Officer, Limerick City & County Council
- Dara McGuigan, Administrative Officer, Limerick City & County Council
The Working Group was established in September 2014 and worked intensively to implement the complex guidelines and build a robust process at local level. In January 2015, following a comprehensive awareness-raising campaign involving almost 20 information workshops and an online registration process, Limerick PPN was formally established.
The Working Group handed over the reins in the following months to the PPN Secretariat, which was established in April, following an on-line election process. For more information on the Secretariat, click here.
The PPN is currently supported by an interim part-time Resource Worker, which is being facilitated by Limerick City and County Council. A full-time Resource Worker will be appointed in the coming months.
It is the aim of the Secretariat is to operate independently of LCCC by early 2016.