Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Ceisteanna (35)

Jonathan O'Brien

Ceist:

35. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government his views on whether there should be a process of adequate consultation with representatives of the community sector and the communities they serve before there is any further progress on the establishment or work of local and community development committees and socioeconomic committees. [44810/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Environment)

Local Community Development Committees, which are to be established as part of the reforms set out in Putting People First – Action Programme for Effective Local Government, will be based on a consultative and participative approach to the delivery of the new enhanced role for local government in community development. The Local Government Bill 2013 will provide that these committees will include representatives of local community interests, as well as members of the local authority, and representatives of other public authorities and of publicly funded or supported local development bodies. Representatives of local community interests will, in the main, be drawn from local Community and Voluntary Fora, which are a collective representative structure for the community and voluntary sector in each local area and play an important role in facilitating local communities in making an input into various consultative processes.

The participative approach underpinning Local Community Development Committees, with the involvement of Community and Voluntary Fora and other local stakeholders, will build on the consultation with stakeholders that has already taken place in relation to the reforms covering the enhanced alignment of local government and local development. The Alignment Steering Group, which I established to examine this area, undertook consultation with key stakeholders, including local development companies, local authorities (both city/county managers and elected representatives), the Community and Voluntary Fora, Volunteer Centres, representative bodies for community and voluntary organisations, and service users.

A partnership approach is also being followed in progressing the implementation of the Steering Group's recommendations, via a n Alignment Working Group which comprises representatives of the City/County Managers Association, the Irish Local Development Network and Pobal. The Working Group has engaged with the Community and Voluntary sector, as well as with other important stakeholders, in considering how best to progress the alignment recommendations. More recently, I established a working group on citizen engagement 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.

The reforms in Putting People First are based on greater local empowerment. The work now underway on citizen engagement and the development of new participative arrangements, such as Local Community Development Committees, reflect the strong level of consultation already underway, which will continue as the reforms are implemented.