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Rural and Community Development | Liaison with the community sector

To ask the Minister for Rural and Community Development the extent to which she proposes to liaise with the community sector throughout the country, with a view to identifying and addressing issues as they arise at an early date; 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. 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 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 sector and state. 

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 groups to participate in local authority policymaking and decision-making. PPNs are also called upon on occasion to bring the perspective of the local community sector to national policy matters. A PPN has been established in each of the 31 local authority areas, and over 18,000 groups nationwide are currently members of a PPN. This means that my Department’s engagement with PPNs give it a deep reach into the local community sector.

DRCD also 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. The Pillar plays an active role in contributing to my Department’s policy formation, meeting with my officials twice a year, with individual members also contributing separately as part of wider Departmental policy engagement.

These initiatives ensure robust structures and open dialogue, facilitating early identification of emerging issues and collaborative means to addressing challenges. 

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