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Taoiseach, Minister Heather Humphreys and Minister of State Joe O’Brien, opens first National Community and Voluntary Civic Forum

  • First national dialogue forum explores how to strengthen public participation in policy making
  • 130 delegates from the community and voluntary and state sectors attend event at the Aviva Stadium
  • New model of engagement will bolster dialogue and further engage community representatives

Taoiseach Micheál Martin TD, Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, and Minister of State, Joe O’Brien TD, has today (Monday, 21st November) opened a new Civic Forum for dialogue between the Community and Voluntary Sector and the State.


This model of engagement with the community and voluntary sector, is in line with the five-year strategy; “Sustainable, Inclusive and Empowered Communities”. The model will be led by the Department of Rural and Community Development and will support open dialogue and increase collaboration with the sector.  


The Civic Forum is designed to fulfil Government commitments to strengthen social dialogue and progress civic participation.  Participants will hear examples of this from an international and national perspective and will share their own perspectives on promoting greater participation in public policy making.


At this first such event the attendees will shape the role that the Civic Forum can play and the contribution that it can make to creating better public policy.


Addressing delegates today at the Aviva Stadium, the Taoiseach highlighted the essential role played by the community and voluntary sector in Irish society.


The Taoiseach said:


“The community and voluntary sector are at times the first voice to identify emerging challenges, speaking loudly for those who cannot, while at other times working silently, almost unseen.


“Our collective response to major challenges such as the COVID pandemic and the current war in Ukraine would have been so much poorer were it not for the invaluable role played by a wide range of community and voluntary organisations working locally and nationally.


“Collaborative approaches to meeting challenges in society result in better outcomes – which is why opportunities like today, for open and clear dialogue, built on shared values and principles, are so important.”


Echoing these sentiments, Minister Humphreys said:


“My Department is about putting communities first, giving people the capacity and opportunities to influence and to be a part of the policies and decisions that affect them. It’s about encouraging that participation – in whatever form it takes.


“I want to convey my thanks to each person in attendance today for being part of conversations that will ultimately strengthen public policy-making not just in my Department, but across Government.”


The event programme brings together international, national and community and voluntary sector speakers with panel discussions and roundtable conversations. More than 130 attendees will include leaders from across the community and voluntary sector, alongside senior local and central government officials.


Minister Joe O’Brien said today’s event will enrich the existing social dialogue processes in Ireland:


“I wish to personally thank the representatives of the sector who gave so willingly of their time to make today happen, who worked with us to design the event programme, resulting in the exciting programme we have today. I would also like to express my gratitude to all of the contributors and facilitators who will share their perspectives and expertise over the course of the day.


“I am always quick to point to the value and contribution of the sector, but it is essential to have processes such as this to ensure we are working with the sector, hearing the feedback, looking at what is and isn’t working and making sure we continue moving together in the right direction. I am very much looking forward to reviewing the outputs of today’s conversations and being part of the on-going process.” 


This initiative forms part of a range of measures being undertaken by the Department to support the community and voluntary sector, and to promote sustainable, inclusive and empowered communities across Ireland.