Minister Hogan addresses the Disability Federation of Ireland's National Conference

‘Citizen Engagement – Local Government by Local People’: A Historic day for Public Participation

3rd April 2014

‘Citizen Engagement – Local Government by Local People’ that was the theme of a speech delivered by Minister for the Environment, Community & Local Government, Phil Hogan TD at today’s Disability Federation of Ireland’s National Conference at Dublin Castle today.

“For the first time in the history of the State, a framework for public participation, which has been provided for under the Local Government Reform Act 2014, will provide the basis for a formal engagement with the community.  This engagement will be underpinned by regulations and guidelines from my Department which will also allow for engagement of citizens through other mechanisms, including, for example, the use of social media,” said Minister Hogan.

The Action Programme for Effective Local Government particularly identified the need for Local Government to build strong relationships with and gain the interest of local people and to provide for better engagement with the local community.  By improving citizen engagement in local government, decision-making will be better informed and strengthened.

Minister Hogan continued, “It’s crucial that public participation is addressed not just as an ‘add-on’ to a new community-focussed role for local government, but also addresses core areas such as promoting higher voter turnout at elections, issues around local services, budgeting, local charges and should operate in a way that increases understanding on the part of the public generally of local government, how it operates and what it does.”

Speaking more directly to the relationship between his department and the DFI, the Minister said, “The Disability Federation of Ireland plays an important national role as advocate for the voluntary disability sector, and works toward ensuring that Irish Society is fully inclusive of people with disabilities.  It gives me great pleasure to be able to support DFI in its endeavours, and my Department provides funding to the DFI under the Scheme to Support National Community & Voluntary Organisations towards core costs associated with the provision of services and also under the Scheme for Social Partnership.

“Under this Scheme a new round of funding will commence on 1 July this year,” said the Minister.  “If we are to ensure the on-going sustainability of these programmes and continued investment, it is vital that we are able to demonstrate meaningful impacts for the citizen.  In this regard the design of the new Scheme for National Organisations in 2014 takes account of the need for greater clarity in relation to its objectives and aims.”

“I have made provision for some €3.1million in total for the Scheme for the whole of 2014 under both the current and new Schemes.  I have allocated a further €550,000 to member organisations of the Community & Voluntary Pillar to cover costs directly related to their contribution to policy-making in the social partnership process.”

Having once again touched on the issue of public participation the Minister concluded his speech saying, “I wish you well in your discussions today, and your endeavours in the future to promote an understanding of the challenges faced by people with disabilities and how we can move towards a society where everyone can become an active participant in decision making affecting their lives and their communities, and I will do my utmost to make this become a reality.”

ENDS
 

Department of Environment press release regarding the DFI Conference please see link below.

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