UPDATE: A document recording comments received at this event is available here: https://www.ogpireland.ie/civic-forum-kilkenny/
A great session. Thanks to everyone for coming.
There is a certain amount of cynicism over PPNs. They need to show they can make a difference by being at the table.
Someone at the end of the phone would be great.
A transperent process is needed when discussing “poverty proofing” the budget. More public input for budgetary processes.
Customer not in sense that I’m buying something, but that they should be here to serve us. Possibly better word than customer such as simply citizen or service user
Effectiveness of service? We don’t have a customer centred model. Is the patient the centre of medical care? No customer view
Turn complex language in to lay language.
Some countries have rolling elections, bringing new blood in and engaging with public on a regular basis
It’s about resources for citizens. And resources for officials to engage with citizens well.
Benefits to public sector themselves to be more accountable. More opportunities to be awarded for good work as well as vice versa
Try to run new fancy software on old technology and it will crash, that’s often the problem. Think of reforms and hand to local government officials to implement, but they’re not trained and isn’t successful
Back to work scheme. They want a CV. You’re picked and then you’re on it. I think anyone should be able to be on it.
Some judicial systems have a mandatory re training every few years. Why not for other areas?
Accountability: Have a box for comments in public offices.
The idea of an elected representative – those who only want to hold a chair for one year. Elected mayors?
Danger that more developed communities will suck out more funds than other communities.
Very successful regeneration project in Tralee. Could be project based instead of county based
PPNs raises the importance of consulting with the Community & Voluntary sector. There was no time for consulting with wider communities before the PPNs were created. It was done in a rushed way. It will take a number of years for it to be built up.
Is there an argument for moving people such as county engineers around from county to county every four years in order to stop them building up an agenda as happened with many in the Olympic Council
It would be good if there was one structure for everything. e.g that the PPN was the structure through which every agency goes.
A statutory body should be created to review local authority suspending. Ombudsman do not have the authority to do this.
Go to where the buck stops and the buck stops with local authorities
Strong systems only work with strong people ‘This is my job, and I’ll get screwed if I don’t do it’
Responsibility of the government is to engage with the public to encourage interest in data sets. Availability of data should be contextualized, public should be reminded as to why it’s important to view the published data.
We don’t have record management services which are fit for purpose
Why don’t government feel obliged to be accountable?
Government could communicate through students unions – to reach young people.
Is there value of publishing mounts of data just because the option is available? But knowledge gained from the data can be irreplaceable. Data should be up to date, intelligible and of value. But who’s role is it to decide what’s of use and what’s not?
There’s a lot of stuff happening in Carlow – e.g. a gardening project. You don’t see it as citizen engagement…but it is! People who volunteered in this ended up doing other stuff and getting involved in much broader ways.
Kilkenny is one of only four counties in Ireland which did meet spending plans. A different experience in every county
Many government and local authority plans often ignored terms like accountability, equality, fairness, transparency in action plans
Different methods for consultations – go to where people are. New engagement methods. Stalls at festivals etc. Question and answer stall at people’s events. Now it’s all government up there and people down here. That loses the government respect.
It’s easier for an official to come to a village than a village to come to an official / official consultation.
Flexibility in time of consultations. Officials going to communities, instead of citizens coming to them.
Public service is not business though, they don’t make profits. So it’s a flawed model
Limited scope of data, is the data from different local authorities comparable? Non governmental website offers this service. Shows that a large majority of public money spent in Kilkenny is used in tourism and roads. If data can be compared, it can be contextualized.
It’s costly for people to participate. We need to reduce the cost for people to participate.
Comhairle na nOg could be very helpful there – in helping communicating issues to young people.
Make politics more engaging. Make information relevant to young people’s lives.
No culpability. Never anyone’s fault for something going wrong. Every hierarchy should have a leader and a stated goal. They should then have to put out a three year plan to achieve that goal. Regular reports about how they’re going against the plan and simultaneously one year projections from that point.
What metrics to use? Must be bottom-up. Not for public service to decide whether they are doing well. Currently a large grey area
I have two daughters and they have no interest in politics, except when same-sex marriage came up. So they will engage if the issue speaks to them.
One achievement is registration of lobbyists, but only success…
I’d like to see government officials in the community discussing topics, people gathered road. Questions, answers and conversations. They should be seen to be in the community, not just faceless. Maybe one topic a week, and there’s a discussion and it will encourage people to get engaged.
Need to bolster our fragile democracy. People are generally disengaged. Done fairly good things over last 90 years, but how do we move on in the future? Abandon Victorian ‘us vs. them’ thinking (legally and socially)
Collating ideas, great to look back and refresh the mind when it comes to meeting and discussions, like this one!
A fiasco if everything is live-streamed!
Civic participation needs to be seen as legitimate and valuable within the public service.
More transparency in what rate of tax paid by MNC’S. More transparency around tax in general, data on tax returns does not need to be so confidential
Should councils live-stream their meetings? Some do, but most don’t
Open Government Partnership – needs to up its game in engaging more people – to make it really feel like a ‘partnership’
Easy way around it is to give An Bord Pleanala the extra power to be an independent adjudicator
Also need a body to oversee planning permission when local authority themselves are the developer. Currently the only means is through court/judicial review, both of which are costly exercises
IPA doesn’t offer any training on civic engagement, although there are loads of courses on everything else.
“Drop in” centres for all in the community, improving engagement levels. Make politics more revalent, esp younger people.
Expand the powers of the PAC to oversee local government
3 weeks for consultation on a 140 page document is hard to understand.
Education: Main issue is upskilling the public officials to enable and value public engagement.
Local authority is not answerable to anyone, including PAC. There is auditors report for Department of Local Government, but often not examined
Transparency about budgets available and what it means, in particular- housing . What happens if it’s not available?
We need to consult children. Children will then be used to being consulted and having their view.
One participant is going to do research on what people think about the Public Participation Networks – what they think of them.
Early participation is very important.
The community should participate in prioritising on what the budget gets spent.
Shouldn’t be up to a citizen to bang in a hundred FOIs in order to find out what’s going on
People suddenly end up being appointed a position despite nobody having seen the position being advertised anywhere. Are we going to have a clear set of rules for everybody?
Budgeting: Here’s a list of things we want to do but there’s a limited budget, we want the people of the community to decide which ones get done.
How much training do public officials get in terms of civic engagement?
In most cases, the absence of regulation is not an accident. Often de-regulation as opposed to lack of regulation
Only if processes can change an outcome can it be participatory. Most are not geared towards change.
Transperency equals higher quality of a system. Not just about the citizens understand of governmental process but also the effeicenty of the process in question
A process that worked: Eirgrid. They consulted and ultimately withdrew their proposal.
Need some kind of regulation for employees of local councils; maybe similiar to those which cover civil servants
Councillor response: Need the skillsets are within the agencies to deliver on that – you need good skills to run good public participation.
Networks for budgetary implications should be made public earlier in the year
Response: That Tralee case study should be put in a booklet and circulated to Councils and Councillors.
Do you people in the community want to be decision makers? They said No. We know that the decision-makers will listen and make the decision the best they can. This is evidence that the physical regeneration consultation process was very good – as they built trust.
Case of retired county manager in Kilkenny who entered NAMA and ended up working on a case he had been involved with previously in council, which is inappropriate
Drive towards transparency- publishing data sets online. But is the interest is there? Channel’s and wording used aren’t very revalent to most in the community. Use of facebook or simplified televised debates. Language may be too complex.
Should cap salaries for CEOs of groups who receive public funding
Good example of citizen engagement – physical regeneration plan – they threw it out and started again. The new plan had social as well as economic and physical aspects. They set up structures to enable participation – a steering group with strong community representation – facilitated it effectively and other measures. Set up a civic participation working group to look at the participation process. If participation was going to happen it needed to be supported, people needed to have a space alongside the steering group.
Salary received by CEOs is scandalous. 250,000 a year is ridiculous
Accountability: How much money received, where they get it, and where they’re spending it
Need people on the ground watching what’s going on
When people are looking for social housing, they go straight to local council. Very little information about who is involved with housing bodies and other organisations
Citizens engagement should be at two levels – pre-proposal level (scoping) and then proposal level. They should be asked if they think the process is working – a feedback loop. They need to know how their comments influenced the outcome.
People might be happier to pay tax if they knew where it was going and if people could vote locally for how they want money to be spend. Need proper communication and more transparency
Education is important. We should start young teaching children about politics and getting involved.
NB: Ask what kind of data is wanted, as opposed to publishing mounts of unwanted data sets
Department of Public Expenditure and Reform: very little transparency in regards to tax compared to other countries. Must be a watch dog for public spending, PAC is composed of politicians. Wasn’t able to find detailed accounts of public spending. Only corporation accounts, detail of a Junior Cert ledger
FOI redaction- only in extreme cases
“Far too early to tell” about the effectiveness of the PPNs.
Evaluate how much funding is allocated for the development of open data. Are citizens prepared to pay? Or is it a state service?
Need to show why participation matters. If they don’t see that it matters, they won’t be interested in learning about politics or participating. People need to say they can take part in decision-making and have an influence.
Standard of councillors can be atrocious. Often need more intelligence. Are there mechanisms to attract the right people to politics?
Lots of EU countries have politics/sociology as a course. It’s proposed in the future to have that in Ireland, but it’s not a decision yet.
Not clear if abolition of smaller town councils led to more accountability or not
Would it be helpful to Councillors and citizens if there was a citizen advice network?
Indicators for data sets, are they outdated for modern society?
Citizens lack of knowledge about what their entitled to is an issue.
If the department owns data- why isn’t it visible to all?
Not enough citizen participation in development plan stage, they are not being listened to at the early stage. That’$ an important stage.
Not going to blame Simon Harris for state of health in this country, but it needs to be shaped up. Both mental and physical health need improvement.
Should hold more meetings, a stage in the local square? No egg throwing! Discussing different topics, simplified so people can understand. Communities would be there, like in Ancient Greece. Then Government could get more respect
We need a way of showing how input to a consultation process e.g. County Development Plan, is reflected in the output. A transparent way of showing the relationship of input to output.
Representatives of the Government should be visible to people, not just on the pulpit in Dail Eireann like the local priest who is never seen
Councillors need to go on a training course. They don’t know what their job is.
Sociology and politics need to be taught in schools
Balance between the release and actual use of data is important to remember.
How much sense can be taken from open data? Numbers on their own don’t inform the public-needs to be categorised.
Fiscal transparency- future focus on planned expenditure vital
Using media and social media better to communicate with people is important.
Most people don’t know what’s going on in the country
The media is very influential and it could be used better to connect citizens with government.
Is there value for money in the recruitment process in the local authority?
Local authority: when positions have to be filled. Within public sector system, they create panels from which they fill posts. It is very inefficient as many new panels have been created. Is that not about accountability and how money is spent?
Suggestion: Transparency could be about understanding the rationale for spending decisions. Rather than just knowing the amount.
Response: They don’t have the psychiatric nurses, perhaps that’s a reason there is a shortage in that area.
Ratio of what is given to mental health is very important to know.
Transparency on how health money is spent is really important as people are suffering with problems that are not getting treated. Yet money is going to roads.
“Housing assistance payment – not one person who could explain it to you. I was moved around everywhere. “
“Very difficult to find right person to speak to in Councils – if you need to escalate an issue. “
Everyone getting to know each other.
Submissions so far have been summarised for attendants in a short presentation. Now everyone is warming up to talk at their tables.
And it’s started.
Kilkenny castle, location of Kilkenny’s OGP civic forum. Participants starting to arrive.
All ready to start.
Everything ready for the start of the Kilkenny forum. Beautiful location!
Looking forward to the civic forum in Kilkenny Castle about to start in 2.5 hours.