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Minister Joe O’Brien urges community groups to join Public Participation Networks as national awareness campaign launched

  • New public awareness campaign for Public Participation Networks (PPNs) launched
  • Call for community groups to join PPNs and have greater voice in local decision-making
  • 18,000 groups across Ireland already helping to ‘Build a better future’ through their involvement

Minister of State with responsibility for Community Development, Charities and Integration, Joe O’Brien TD, has today (Tuesday, 21 February) launched a new national awareness campaign to encourage community groups to join their local Public Participation Networks (PPN).

Public Participation Networks allow local authorities to connect with community groups around the country and give people a greater say in local government decisions that affect their communities.

Each county and city in Ireland has its own PPN and more than 18,000 community and voluntary groups are currently members.

Examples of projects and initiatives undertaken by PPNs include:

  • Longford PPN Development Officer and Longford FAI Development Officer worked on a collaboration that saw summer football camps rolled out for 15 children with autism. This was the first time an initiative like this was held in the country and the FAI plan to roll it out in other counties going forward.
  • Clare PPN worked with Travellers, people with disabilities, carers, migrants and many other disadvantaged groups to develop an Anti-Poverty Strategy for their county. This strategy brought to light information about poverty in Clare that had not previously been available but can now be used to make better decisions about Clare’s future.
  • Galway City Community Network worked with women living in Direct Provision, who brought their experiences of childcare and under-employment issues to Galway City’s economic development planning, e.g. proposing establishing a migrant centre where migrants could network with each other and potential employers to enhance their employment prospects.

Speaking at an event to launch a new national awareness campaign for Public Participation Networks, Minister O’Brien said:

“Public Participation Networks give communities across Ireland a voice in local decision-making and bring valuable on-the-ground, experience and expertise into local and national policy development.

“The strength and impact of PPNs can be seen in how they represented volunteers and community groups within the responses to Covid-19, working with local authorities and state agencies.

“Through local action, PPNs also contribute to policymaking at national level, such as the development of the Climate Action Plan 2021, when PPNs hosted and facilitated import/ant local community conversations around the country.”

Cliona Kelliher, from Kildare PPN said:

“More than a thousand PPN representatives are currently on boards and committees of local decision-making bodies.

“They are contributing to decisions on climate, transport, migrant integration, community health and wellbeing, policing and many more.

“We hope this awareness campaign encourages more people to have their voices and views heard.”

John Mulholland, CEO of Laois CoCo and Chair of the CCMA Rural Development, Community, Culture and Heritage (RCCH) Committee said:

“The PPN structures offer Local Authorities a way to collaborate directly with volunteer community groups, who do so much for their localities.

“PPNs play an important role in developing our key policies and strategies, and each Local Authority provides considerable support to their local PPNs in recognition of this.

“This campaign will boost the profiles of PPNs, which is well-deserved in light of their work.”

Membership of a local PPN also gives groups access to a range of other benefits including  bespoke training programmes, information on funding and grants, and on proposals or decisions being made in their county, as well as networking and learning opportunities with other local organisations.

Another aim of the campaign, launched today, is to encourage groups that represent young and marginalised people to join their local PPN.

Concluding, Minister O’Brien said:

“I am delighted to launch the Public Participation Networks awareness campaign today.

“We want to highlight their important role and functions so people know how Public Participation Networks allow them to make a difference and ‘build a better future’ and better communities for everyone.

“I want to invite groups around the country to join their local PPN and help shape local solutions to local issues.”

The websites of all local PPNs are available at www.gov.ie/PPN.

Notes to editors

  • Cliona Kelliher, Kildare PPN, is available for media interviews on request.
  • Photographer Marc O’Sullivan has been commissioned to cover today’s event and will issue images to picture desks this afternoon.

About PPNs

Established under the Local Government Reform Act 2014, Public Participation Networks allow local authorities to connect with volunteer-run groups around the country. They provide a mechanism by which citizens can have a greater say in local government decisions that affect their own communities.

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.

Membership of a PPN is open to all volunteer-led/not-for-profit groups in a local authority area. More than 18,000 groups nationwide are currently members of a PPN.

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