Thursday, 17 December 2020
Department of Rural and Community Development
Public Participation Networks
51. To ask the Minister for Rural and Community Development her views on the operation of the public participation networks; her plans for further developing this structure; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43688/20]
Public Participation Networks (PPNs) are the main link between local authorities and the community and voluntary, social inclusion and environmental sectors within their areas. PPNs play a critical role in increasing participation in policymaking at local and national level.
PPNs are now established in all 31 local authority areas, and over 17,500 volunteer-run groups nationwide are currently registered with their local PPN. The recently-published 2019 PPN Annual Report demonstrates their impact, showing that 928 PPN representatives sat on 424 Local Authority Boards and Committees in 2019, inputting on issues such as bye-laws on open spaces, transport routes and restructuring of the LEADER programme. Furthermore, PPNs continue to play a crucial role in the Community Call initiative.
My Department will continue to support PPNs financially and structurally so that local communities, including marginalised communities, can continue to input into policies which affect them. These supports include a bespoke training course for PPN stakeholders, which has recently commenced, and a communications campaign scheduled for 2021. Furthermore, the recently published PPN Handbook, developed in consultation with all stakeholders, provides extensive guidance on operational matters.
In addition, a root-and-branch review of the PPN structures is set to take place next year. Its purpose is to assess the operation of the network to date against the overall objectives and to make recommendations on how to build on existing strengths and support the future development of PPNs. A key element of this review will be consultation with all stakeholders. The review is expected to begin in early 2021 and conclude by the end of 2021.