The new Mayor of South Dublin County, Cllr. Guss O’Connell took office on 24th of June 2016. In his acceptance speech the Mayor addressed many issues, including that of the democratic deficit in society and how he sees the PPN as a mechanism to help address this. The PPN looks forward to working closely with the mayor over the next year, increasing the participation and influence of communities in decision making and policy development.
Mayor O’Connell in his acceptance speech said “I am deeply honoured to be elected as Mayor and First Citizen of South Dublin County.” He added “during my term of office I want to focus on community, in this our centenary year of 1916, I want to give expression to that part of the proclamation that states, we will cherish all our children equally. This is not only about young people but about all persons living in our Republic irrespective of creed, colour or allegiance”
Mayor to promote closer working with the PPN
“We don’t have to look far to know that there is a democratic deficit in society. There is a distrust and disenchantment with politicians. It is our job, I believe, as councillors to address this deficit and address the breakdown in Democracy. We have a plethora of bodies now that are intended to involve civic society more in the life of their communities. But do they? Are we really engaging with the people on their terms?
I believe that as elected councillors we should work closer with these bodies and especially with the Public Participation Network (PPN) that is meant to be the umbrella body for civic society. I get the impression sometimes that it is perceived, as was the earlier version The Community Forum and Community Platform, as somehow in competition with us Councillors. Nothing could be further from the truth. The theory is that the PPN provide a forum where the public can have an input into decision making at local government level. The PPN is intended to enable the public to engage in decision making.
The PPN is meant to provide a forum where the public can gather information and feed into the decisions of the local authority, the elected councillors make policy partly informed by the PPN, the Council Executive implement the Policies which are then monitor by the elected members who in turn are accountable to the public. I would like to see us develop this concept further over the next year.”
Mayor O’ Connell then outlined his priorities for his year in office which will include the theme of ‘Celebrating Community’ with a strong focus on those in our County who are marginalised especially those with a disability, ethnic minorities and older persons.
Mayor O’ Connell concluded his speech by stating that “South Dublin County has a very rich spread of people from different backgrounds and cultures. I am glad to note that both indigenous and immigrant people play a full and active role in society. It’s our job as public representatives to provide the leadership that will enable our communities to be fully integrated and enjoy the quality of live that they deserve. I will make myself available during my term as Mayor to do just that and I look forward to doing so with the full support of all Councillors”