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Ireland

Support Public Participation Networks (IE0032)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Ireland National Action Plan 2016-2018

Action Plan Cycle: 2016

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government

Support Institution(s): National PPN Advisory Group, Local Authorities

Policy Areas

Capacity Building, Public Participation, Subnational

IRM Review

IRM Report: Ireland End-of-Term Report 2016-2018, Ireland Mid-Term Report 2016-2018

Starred: No

Early Results: Marginal

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information Civic Participation

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

To support Public Participation Networks through the operation of the National PPN Advisory Group and other supports. Drawing on initial experiences of the operation of Public Participation Networks, continue to pro-actively work to provide necessary supports and promote best practice. The primary responsibility and accountability for decision-making within the local authority resides in the elected council. As part of a revitalisation of local government, the approaches to engage the public in local authority policy formulation and service design will go beyond the range of communication, consultation and community participation mechanisms used in the past. Approaches to stimulate greater public participation will complement rather than diminish, compete with, or substitute for local representative democracy. The participation of members of local communities, whether as individuals or as members of local sectoral, community or other groups in public life and their right to influence the decisions that affect their lives and communities are at the centre of democracy. Open and inclusive policymaking enhances transparency and accountability, and builds civic capacity. A National PPN Advisory Group has been established, representative of relevant stakeholders, and chaired by the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government. A PPN User Guide has been developed to provide practical assistance to PPNs. Resources have been provided to recruit dedicated resource workers for each PPN. A PPN Data Base comprising a robust data and information management system that all PPN’s can use is being rolled out. A series of training and information events have been provided at a number of different geographical locations to support PPNs and local authorities. The public consultation for this National Action Plan highlighted the need to ensure that PPNs are supported through the dissemination of best practices across local authorities. To ensure that Public Participation Networks provide the community and voluntary and environmental sectors with meaningful engagement with Local Authorities. January 2017 to June 2017.
Commitment 2: Support Public Participation Networks OGP values Civic participation, Public accountability New or ongoing commitment New Lead implementation organisations Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government Other actors involved - government National PPN Advisory Group, Local Authorities Verifiable and measurable milestones to fulfil the commitment New or ongoing Start date End date Put in place a fully representative and transparently nominated National PPN Advisory Group. With National Advisory Group guidance: - Engage with all stakeholders, including PPNs, community-based PPN member organisations and local authorities to promote best practice. - Update and improve the PPN User Guide. - Continue ongoing training/capacity building programmes for local PPN participants. - Roll out a capacity building programme for local authority members and officials. - Develop a national communications/awareness-raising plan for PPNs. - Roll out and update as necessary Client Relationship Database for all PPNs. New January 2017 June 2017.

IRM Midterm Status Summary

2. Support Public Participation Networks

Commitment Text:

Objective: Drawing on initial experiences of the operation of Public Participation Networks, continue to pro-actively work to provide necessary supports and promote best practice.

Status quo: The primary responsibility and accountability for decision-making

within the local authority resides in the elected council. As part of a revitalisation of local government, the approaches to engage the public in local authority policy formulation and service design will go beyond the range of communication, consultation and community participation mechanisms used in the past. Approaches to stimulate greater public participation will complement rather than diminish, compete with, or substitute for local representative democracy. The participation of members of local communities, whether as individuals or as members of local sectoral, community or other groups in public life and their right to influence the decisions that affect their lives and communities are at the centre of democracy. Open and inclusive policy-making enhances transparency and accountability, and builds civic capacity.

A National PPN Advisory Group has been established, representative of relevant stakeholders, and chaired by the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government. A PPN User Guide has been developed to provide practical assistance to PPNs. Resources have been provided to recruit dedicated resource workers for each PPN. A PPN Data Base comprising a robust data and information management system that all PPN’s can use is being rolled out. A series of training and information events have been provided at a number of different geographical locations to support PPNs and local authorities. The public consultation for this National Action Plan highlighted the need to ensure that PPNs are supported through the dissemination of best practices across local authorities.

Ambition: To ensure that Public Participation Networks provide the community and voluntary and environmental sectors with meaningful engagement with Local Authorities.

Milestone:

2.1. Put in place a fully representative and transparently nominated National PPN Advisory Board. With National Advisory group guidance:

- Engage with all stakeholders, including PPNs, community-based PPN member organizations and local authorities.

- Update and improve the PPN user guide

- Continue on-going training/capacity building programs for local PPN participants, including local authority members and officials

- Develop a national communications/awareness raising plan for PPNs

- Roll out and update as necessary Client Relationship Database for PPNs

Responsible Institution: Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government

Supporting institutions: All local authorities

Start Date: January 2017

End Date: June 2017

Context and Objectives

Roughly 36 percent of Ireland’s population lives in rural localities, making local government important to the everyday lives of many citizens.[Note: Taken from the World Bank at: https://tradingeconomics.com/ireland/rural-population-percent-of-total-population-wb-data.html.%5D Ireland’s first action plan introduced platforms for public participation at the local government level, referred to as Public Participation Networks (PPNs). As a result, there are currently 31 PPNs running in all 31 local communities in Ireland, allowing CSOs and volunteer organisations to participate in decision making together with local public authorities.[Note: See: http://drcd.gov.ie/list-of-ppn-website/.%5D This commitment seeks to make the PPNs more representative of all stakeholders by establishing a National PPN Advisory Group. Such a group has existed since 2016, but its membership was chosen by the Department of Housing, Planning, Community, and Local Government, and members were not nominated or elected by stakeholders. The commitment calls for this group to offer strategic guidance on issues such as promoting best practice regarding PPNs throughout Ireland, provide training for PPN participants (including training local officials), and raise awareness for PPN activities.

Given the emphasis on engaging various local stakeholders on how to make the National PPN Advisory Group fully representative and making policy formulation more inclusive and representative of all stakeholders, the commitment is relevant to the OGP value of civic participation. Further, the Client Relationship Database for PPNs is relevant to information access, given that it constitutes a robust data and information management system that all PPNs can use. The main objective of having a fully representative group that is transparently nominated, along with the specific milestones such as updating the PPN user guide and developing a national awareness-raising campaign for the PPNs, are reasonably verifiable. However, the commitment does not fully outline what constitutes ‘fully representative’ and ‘transparently nominated.’ Therefore, the specificity is considered medium. If fully implemented, this commitment will provide PPNs a foundation to give local communities the means to meaningfully engage with local authorities. However, its potential impact is moderate, as opposed to transformative, because Ireland has a unitary system of government where most of the significant policies are made at the central level of governance.

Completion

The first year of implementation has seen substantial progress, particularly regarding development of the National PPN Advisory Group, and the commitment is overall on schedule. At the end of June 2017, the government indicated in its progress report on the commitment that it has taken the first steps to establish the Advisory Group. This is evidenced by a call in May 2017 when the Department of Housing, Planning, Community, and Local Government started the process of electing individuals, where each local PPN was invited to seek nominations. In terms of process, each local PPN was invited to seek nominations from within their membership and nominate one representative from each sectoral college (Community and Voluntary, Social Inclusion, and Environmental). It was required that the nomination process adopted by local PPNs be inclusive, transparent, and fair, where nominated individuals explicitly state their willingness to take up a position on a newly constituted National PPN Advisory Group. Nominations were made to the department through individual PPNs by 30 June 2017 and simply contain the nominee’s name, contact details (mail/phone), and sectoral college being represented. The members of the new Advisory Group would be appointed for a period of three years.[Note: More information and documentation are available on the Meath PPN and Clare PPN websites, http://www.meathppn.ie/2017/06/09/nominations-for-ppn-national-advisory-group/ and http://clareppn.ie/notice-of-election-call-for-nominations-for-representatives-to-sit-on-the-national-advisory-forum-for-public-participation-networks-in-ireland/, respectively. ] Although the Advisory Group was not set up in the first year of the action plan, a government official involved in the commitment informed the IRM researcher that the Advisory Group was eventually set up by October 2017.[Note: Given that the Group was established in year two of the plan, analysis of it will be considered in more detail in the end of term report. ] Other activities, such as continuing with training events for local PPN participants, commenced. This included a series of training and information events at various locations throughout the country to support PPNs and local authorities during the first year of the action plan.[Note: See for example the events scheduled at the following local PPNs: Carlow PPN, Louth PPN, Limerick PPN, Kildare PPN, Meath PPN ]

The PPN User Guide was updated in March 2017, and included a revamped and complete analysis of the principles and values of PPNs, clear diagrammatic representation of the structure of a PPN, and a full outline of the roles, rights, and responsibilities of PPN representatives.[Note: The updated version of the PPN User Guide from March 2017 is available online here: http://drcd.gov.ie/wp-content/uploads/public_participation_networks_ppns_user_guide_march_2017.pdf.%5D With regard to the national communications/awareness raising plan for PPNs, the department’s website of all PPN-related material has been updated as evidenced in desk research, while the government reports that the PPN Annual Activity Report for 2016 is to be released in Q4 2017.[Note: See: http://drcd.gov.ie/list-of-ppn-website/. ] The government claims in its progress report that it made the PPN client database available to all 31 PPNs, but it has not been fully rolled out at this stage. This is envisaged to take place in the second year of the action plan.

Next Steps

This is an ongoing commitment. If various aspects are not implemented during the current action plan cycle, the IRM research recommends carrying them forward into the next plan with some additional milestones. The IRM researcher recommends, in line with stakeholder recommendations, creating a systemised process for regularly reviewing and improving the PPN User Guide,[Note: See Comments by Helen Howes, found on: https://consult.ogpireland.ie/en/submission/CVQ-271.%5D even if this does not form part of a future commitment in an action plan.

While the PPNs have been generally successful in increasing participation at the local level, stakeholders like Social Justice Ireland have raised concerns over the lack of funding.[Note: See Comments by Social Justice Ireland found on https://consult.ogpireland.ie/en/submission/CVQ-258.%5D Therefore, the IRM researcher recommends providing the Advisory Group more financial resources to oversee training for local government staff.

IRM End of Term Status Summary


Ireland's Commitments

  1. Promote Transparent Climate Policy Development

    IE0031, 2016, Environment and Climate

  2. Support Public Participation Networks

    IE0032, 2016, Capacity Building

  3. Improve Access to Justice: Reducing Costs

    IE0033, 2016, Judiciary

  4. Improve Access to Justice: Framework to Assist Vulnerable Persons

    IE0034, 2016, Judiciary

  5. Improve Access to Justice: Oversight of Legal Practitioners

    IE0035, 2016, Justice

  6. Enhance Citizen Engagement in Policy Making: General

    IE0036, 2016, Capacity Building

  7. Enhance Citizen Engagement in Policy Making: Youth

    IE0037, 2016, Marginalized Communities

  8. Enhance Customer Engagement

    IE0038, 2016, Capacity Building

  9. Improve Access To Government Services Through Technology

    IE0039, 2016, Capacity Building

  10. Participatory Budgeting

    IE0040, 2016, Participation in Budget Processes

  11. Improve Transparency of Government Service Providers

    IE0041, 2016, Fiscal Transparency

  12. Enhance Fiscal Transparency

    IE0042, 2016, Fiscal Transparency

  13. Introduce Modern Document Management Procedures

    IE0043, 2016, Legislation & Regulation

  14. Develop an Open Data Strategy 2017-2020

    IE0044, 2016, E-Government

  15. Invest in Data Infrastructure that will result in better Open Data

    IE0045, 2016, Legislation & Regulation

  16. Starred commitment Develop a Code of Practice for the Governance of Charities

    IE0046, 2016,

  17. Starred commitment Public Sector Standards Bill

    IE0047, 2016, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  18. Establish a Register of Beneficial Ownership

    IE0048, 2016, Asset Disclosure

  19. Establishment of best practice standards for Open Data

    IE0001, 2014, Capacity Building

  20. Establishment of Ireland’s Open Data Platform

    IE0002, 2014, E-Government

  21. Undertake an audit of key datasets for publication

    IE0003, 2014, Open Data

  22. Establish a roadmap for the Open Data and an evaluation framework to provide assessment of the ongoing Open Data

    IE0004, 2014, Open Data

  23. Establishment of an Open Data Ireland Governance Board (ODIGB) and Steering and Implementation Group (SIG) for Open Data Ireland

    IE0005, 2014, Open Data

  24. Signing up to the G8 Open Data Charter

    IE0006, 2014, Open Data

  25. Implementing Open Data

    IE0007, 2014, Open Data

  26. Improve computer literacy through implementation of proposed new Digital Strategy for Schools

    IE0008, 2014, Capacity Building

  27. Review national and international practice to develop revised principles / code for public engagement/consultation with citizens, civil society and others by public bodies.

    IE0009, 2014, Public Participation

  28. Starred commitment Hold referenda arising from the recommendations of the Constitutional Convention

    IE0010, 2014, Gender

  29. Starred commitment Ethics Reform

    IE0011, 2014, Conflicts of Interest

  30. Strengthening Freedom of Information - Implement the Code of Practice for Freedom of Information (FOI).

    IE0012, 2014, Legislation & Regulation

  31. Reform of FOI

    IE0013, 2014, Capacity Building

  32. Starred commitment Regulation of Lobbying

    IE0014, 2014, Legislation & Regulation

  33. Starred commitment Encourage, Protect and Raise Awareness of Whistleblower Duties and Protections

    IE0015, 2014, Whistleblower Protections

  34. MEASURES TO INCREASE CITIZEN PARTICIPATION IN DECISION MAKING ON POLICY AND LEGISLATIVE PROPOSALS. Systemic pre-legislative scrutiny of draft bills

    IE0016, 2014, Legislation & Regulation

  35. Develop and deliver access to environmental information (AIE) training module for public officials

    IE0017, 2014, Capacity Building

  36. INCREASE CITIZEN PARTICIPATION AT LOCAL LEVEL. Pilot approach to implementation of Public Participation Networks

    IE0018, 2014, Private Sector

  37. Provide legal base for public participation framework in local government

    IE0019, 2014, Capacity Building

  38. Undertake a feasibility study on possible means of enabling further citizen engagement in local authority budgetary processes

    IE0020, 2014, Participation in Budget Processes

  39. SUPPORT CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE AS CITIZENS. Develop, finalise and publish the first Government Strategy on children and young people's participation in decision-making.

    IE0021, 2014, Capacity Building

  40. Maximise participation and understanding of young people in civic life

    IE0022, 2014, Capacity Building

  41. Development of an ICT Strategy

    IE0023, 2014, Public Service Delivery

  42. Data sharing and governance bill

    IE0024, 2014, E-Government

  43. Public Services Card

    IE0025, 2014, E-Government

  44. Single Customer View

    IE0026, 2014, E-Government

  45. Local Government Portal

    IE0027, 2014, E-Government

  46. New Local Enterprise Offices

    IE0028, 2014, Public Service Delivery

  47. Review and enhancement of complaints procedures and using feedback to improve services across the public service; A review of citizen complaints procedures will be undertaken.

    IE0029, 2014, Public Participation

  48. Enhance customer engagement

    IE0030, 2014, Public Participation