For Oral Answer on : 23/02/2023
Question Number(s): 21 Question Reference(s): 9019/23
Department: Rural and Community Development
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Minister for Rural and Community Development the way her Department encourages and supports the development of community representative organisations, especially in areas where none currently exist; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
In 2019, my Department launched Sustainable, Inclusive and Empowered Communities, the Strategy to support the community and voluntary sector in Ireland. The Strategy seeks to create a vibrant and active civil society, developing opportunities for all communities to contribute, engage and participate in decision-making and policy implementation.
As part of the strategy implementation, in November 2022 my Department held the first Civic Forum. The Forum, attended by over 100 representatives from national and local government as well as a wide representation from across the community and voluntary sectors, provides a space for formal engagement between the state and the community and voluntary sector.
Another initiative under the Strategy, a new resource guide, ‘A Guide for Inclusive Community Engagement in Local Planning and Decision Making‘ was launched earlier this month. The Guide is aimed at ensuring that marginalised and disadvantaged communities have opportunities to engage and participate in local planning and decision-making.
The Scheme to Support National Organisations (SSNO), funded and overseen by my Department, also plays a significant role in Government’s support to our national community and voluntary organisations.
In addition, my Department provides funding to the members of the Community and Voluntary Pillar to engage in dialogue and policy formation. The Pillar is a seventeen member group representing community and voluntary organisations, which contribute to the social dialogue process.
My Department also has overall responsibility for the funding, governance oversight and development of Public Participation Networks (PPNs). The focus of the PPN is to empower and assist volunteer-led community representative groups to participate in local authority policymaking and decision-making. This gives local community groups a greater say in local government decisions which affect their own communities.