Cork County Public Participation Network (PPN) is a network of community, voluntary, social inclusion and environmental organisations, working to build better communities across the county. PPN members nominate and elect people from within their member groups to represent them on some of the Boards and Committees set up by Cork County Council and other bodies. This is how the voices of Member Groups are included and heard when it comes to the policy decision-making process.
Cork County PPN is independent and “apolitical”. That means it is not under any outside influence and is not part of any political group. Although many PPNs are physically situated within the Local Authority building in their area, and some of the staff have been employed directly by that Local Authority, the work of the PPN is fully independent and not influenced by the Local Authority.
Why have a PPN?
Public Participation Networks (PPNs) came about following the report of the Working Group on Citizen Engagement with Local Government published in 2013, which recommended that communities be given more of a say in decisions taken by local government. The recommended way to do this was through the PPNs, which were written into law in the Local Government Reform Act 2014. PPNs operate in every local authority in Ireland and are now the main way that local authorities connect with groups active in their area. In Cork, we have a City PPN and a County PPN.
“The primary purpose of the PPN member groups is to input into, and have their voices heard, within the formal decision-making structures of the local authority. The PPN is now the main way that local authorities connect with groups active in their area”
PPN Handbook, p.3
Values of a PPN
The ethos of the PPN is very important to how it works. In doing its work, each PPN keeps to a set of six principles. This means every PPN must be:
- Inclusive of all volunteer-led groups in their area, and actively look to include groups that might not otherwise be included or who might not often have their voice heard.
- Participatory, open, welcoming, respectful, willing to work together and supportive of each other. The PPN will encourage participation by Member Groups in all of its work. There should be clear communications to and from Member Groups using as wide a range of communication methods as possible to make sure that their reach is as broad as possible. The PPN should support new Member Groups, and Member Groups who might not have a lot of experience.
- Independent from the Local Authority and of any special interests (the PPN must account to the Local Authority for its budget, but is independent in its work).
- Valuing of Diversity and recognise that the Colleges are made up of people and Member Groups that have a wide range of different views, experiences and opinions. PPNs are expected to feed into local government decision-making with the whole range of views from its Member Groups and their Colleges.
- Transparent in everything that it does. It should communicate openly, regularly and clearly with all Member Groups.
- Accountable to its Member Groups by putting good governance policies and procedures in place.
The best way to make sure that each of these principles and values is followed is to have a Flat Structure. A Flat Structure means that no single voice or group of voices controls the PPN.
Who are the PPN? – The Stakeholders
The Staff are made up of a Resource Worker who works on behalf of the Plenary to support the development of plans and actions on behalf of the PPN and a Support Worker who supports the Resource Worker and the Secretariat in their work. Meet the Cork County PPN Staff.
The secretariat co-ordinates & oversees the work of the PPN between plenary meetings. The Secretariat is made up of nominees from each of the Municipal Districts and each of the three colleges. Find out more about the Secretariat.
The Plenary is all the Member Groups in a PPN. The county plenary happens when all the member groups come together. The Plenary is the ultimate decision-making body of the PPN on operational and local policy issues. Check out the Plenary page for more information and when the next Plenary is held.
PPN Representatives are elected by Member Groups to represent the PPN on Cork County Council Committees. In doing this, they represent the PPN as a whole, their own Municipal District / area, their College and their group. The Committees and Boards page lists all the areas where the PPN has representation.
Linkage Groups are formed around specific interests e.g. housing, planning. Linkage Groups provide information and feedback to support the PPN Representatives.
Cork County Council and Cork County PPN work together meaningfully to their mutual benefit. Cork County PPN is the primary route by which Cork County Council gets inputs for consultations with their communities, and community representatives on their Boards and Committees. As such, Cork County PPN plays a key role in supporting the development of communities in Cork County. In turn, Cork County Council provides crucial supports to the PPN in addition to funding. To find out more, visit the Cork County Council website.
The Department of Rural and Community Development is responsible for the implementation of the Strategy to support the Community & Voluntary Sector in Ireland. They have responsibility at Government level for the PPNs. To find out more about the Department’s scope and plans, visit the Department of Rural and Community Development website.