Published 12 October 2018
Minister of State at the Department of Rural and Community Development, Sean Kyne, TD, yesterday (11 October) addressed the second National Public Participation Network Conference held in the Sheraton Hotel, Athlone, Co Westmeath. The two-day event was hosted by Westmeath Public Participation Network, in conjunction with the Department of Rural and Community Development and the National PPN Advisory Group.
This year’s Conference built on the success of the first ever national PPN Conference, held in Sligo in 2017. The Conference was attended by a wide range of individuals, representing PPNs throughout the country. Local authority officials, elected representatives and others who support the work of the Network were also in attendance.
In his address, Minister Kyne referred to the outstanding work carried out by PPNs to date, considering the reasonably short time they have been in existence. At the end of 2017, membership of PPNs extended to some 13,000 members, an increase of 21% over 2016. Minister Kyne reiterated to participants the principle and importance of citizen engagement. “The effective participation of local communities in local government matters must”, Minister Kyne said, “remain the absolute focus of those supporting and engaged in the process of public participation.”
The Minister continued “I have personally seen first-hand the impressive work of a number of PPNs around the country who are working to empower, enable and encourage people and communities to participate in shaping policies and programme which impact on their lives. I am fully committed to continuing to support the ongoing development of PPNs so that they achieve their full potential. “
“Community organisation across the country have seen the benefits associated with membership of their PPN. Organisations clearly want to be members of their PPN because they see the PPNs and their networks as a key element in making certain that the views of local communities inform the development of local and national policy” the Minister concluded.
This year’s conference, which had a varied and interesting agenda of workshops and talks, included site trips to a number of locations in Westmeath, Roscommon and Offaly where delegates met with local community organisations that are involved in and empowered by their PPN, local authority and other agencies.
The Minister congratulated the National PPN Advisory Group and Westmeath PPN for their work in organising this important event.