LIMERICK has gone without a functioning link between its Council and up to 400 members of local community, voluntary and environmental groups for more than a year.
A publicly funded project, Limerick’s Public Participation Network (PPN) was the only PPN in Ireland not to avail of €50,000 in Government funding last year, after it was stalled suddenly due to “governance issues”.
PPNs, which connect local authorities with groups like Meals on Wheels, Tidy Towns, sports clubs, or cultural societies, aim to give citizens a greater say in local government decisions.
“The situation is, that aside from one plenary meeting, no PPN activities took place in 2018,” PPN member Elisa O’Donovan said.
“Members are in the situation now where we have no co-ordinator and no funding.”
Limerick PPN is a core part of many policies when it comes to public participation in Limerick, Ms O’Donovan added.
“It’s really poor from a civic engagement point of view.”
Last year, Limerick PPN did not receive €50,000 in funding available from the Department of Rural and Community Development.
A further €30,000, available as a contribution from Limerick City and County Council (LCCC) was also not fully availed of, a LCCC spokesperson confirmed.
Last February, this contribution from LCCC was stalled as an internal audit took place.
While the PPN is independent of the local authority, it receives its public funding from LCCC.
“Issues arose in relation to governance and decision making processes within the PPN and some PPN members advised the council of same,” the Council spokesperson said.
“This was completed and the findings were submitted to, and considered, by the internal audit committee and given to the PPN secretariat members.”
The Limerick Leader understands that the findings of this audit have not been made publicly available.
LCCC has been working with the PPN office to help deliver an “effective PPN for Limerick”, the spokesperson added.
Last month, a working group met with the Department of Rural and Community Development.
“A full report and recommendations of this independent working group will be presented to the PPN secretariat in due course,” the spokesperson added.
“As the working group is independent of the Council we are unaware when these recommendation will be available.”