The PPN are a way to formalize the participation of various civic groups in the workings of local government. When making a decision affecting the community, local government can always hold public meetings to enable citizens in general to speak out on the decision. The PPNs make it mandatory that the local government consult on their decisions with certain segments of the community, specifically Community and Voluntary groups (e.g., sports, cultural societies, tidy towns), Environment groups, and Social Inclusion groups representing socially excluded or marginalized people (e.g., migrants and travelers).
In Ireland these PPNs were authorised by the Local Government Act, 2014. It is a specific form of participatory democracy, funded jointly by the local authorities and central government. The PPNs function both at the Municipal District and County/City level.
The various groups register to join the PPN in their local area, and together they form a Secretariat that functions as an organising committee. The local authority then consults with the local PPN on decisions affecting the community. The consultation also enables the different Groups to network, or get to know each other and to engage directly and fully on local issues affecting their community.
Some further ideas to explore on Public Participation Networks
Identify the PPN in your area and the organizations belonging to the PPN. Is any local organization that you know of that is not represented in the PPN, and if so, why.
See if there have been any decisions made by the local authority where there has not been consultation by the authority with the PPN, and determine why.
Interview members of your local PPN and determine what improvements could be made to the workings of the PPN to more fully reflect concerns of the local community.
Department of the Environment, Community & Local Government, Working Group Report on Citizen Engagement with Local Government (December 2013). www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/migrated-files/en/Publications/Community/CommunityVoluntarySupports/FileDownLoad%2C36779%2Cen.pdf
Environmental Pillar (Ireland), Public Participation Networks. environmentalpillar.ie/public-participation-networks/
Good Energies Alliance, PPNs– a new opportunity for environmental groups. goodenergiesalliance.com/tag/public-participation-network/
Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, Public Participation Networks. www.housing.gov.ie/community/community-and-voluntary-supports/public-participation-networks/public-participation
Kilkenny County Council, Public Participation Networks (PPN) on YouTube at www.youtube.com/watch?v=PiNowh2wY1g
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