Nenagh town councillor Tommy Moylan has welcomed Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan’s announcement to set up a working group on citizen engagement at local government level
Cllr Moylan explained that the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Phil Hogan, has recently announced the setting up of a working group on citizen engagement, chaired by Fr Sean Healy of Social Justice Ireland, to make recommendations on more extensive and diverse input by citizens into the decision-making process and to allow for facilitation of input by citizens into decision making at the local government level.
“There is urgent need for local government to build strong relationships with and gain the interest of local people and to provide for better engagement with citizens.
“At local government level we need to encompass ideas such as participatory budgeting, petition-related rights, plebiscites, and regular town / area meetings. It is important that citizen engagement 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.”
Cllr Moylan said he believed that with the new reforms of the local government system currently been undertaken, it gave a great opportunity to “put the citizen at the heart of everything we do at local level and ensure that we build strong relationships between local government and the citizen”.
“The public must be at the heart of the decision making process and local councils need to throw open their doors to the public to ensure that local government into the future is a partnership between the public, their councillors and the council executive. This working group will explore all the options on how we might enhance citizen engagement and I would like to wish the group well in their endeavours”.
Cllr. Moylan concluded that the working group will report to the Minister and the Government within the next six to eight weeks.