Slugger Awards: Participation and Involvement Award…

That this award only had one nomination last year tells its own story about public participation in Northern Ireland. And yet, as more and more citizens find their voices online, it is crucial that public institutions turn and face the concerns of the public they seek to serve, before rather than after their plans take effect. All too often public bodies undertake consultation exercises simply because they’re demanded by law rather than because of the value it may bring those institutions or the communities they seek to serve.

As a result such public dialogue as there is are often conducted in an atmosphere of cynical tokenism or are seen from the outside as bland exercises in public relations. And yet we persist, because we believe more and more it is critical that politicians and others find meaningful ways to connect with the people whose interests they seek to represent.
So what forms of public consultation do you know that worked, however modestly? It might have been cheap and cheerful, or complex and expensive. So long as it was effective and a real example of democratic or other public institutions reaching out to the community

With your nominations, please try to include:

1. What was the subject of the consultation?
2. What format/structure did they use?
3. Why would you say it worked?

You can make your nominations below. Be as expansive as you wish, so we can make the best pitch possible to both the reader and judges panels who may not be as familiar as you with your favoured candidate. Remember we are looking for best practice here in order to encourage others to take the process more seriously and treat it as a crucial part of their management cycle…

  • Mark
  • Mark
  • Mick Fealty

    Thanks Mark!

    I intend to try and work this category as hard as I can. I want to have a strong panel of candidates to put in front of the judges. So please, even if you can’t think of one that worked, pass the word on to someone else who might…

  • Here is an early nomination for next year! The HUWY project ( will get thousands of young people to discuss Internet policy, then feed their ideas to policy-makers in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Estonia and Brussels. The young people will be the teachers, and the policy-makers the learners.

    But it will only be launched on 3 December, so it isn’t eligible for this year’s awards.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Would the Assembly roadshow fit into this category? It might not be consultation, but it’s participation and involvement.

  • Slugger O’Toole Admin

    Yes BG, it very much would!! Beats the hell out of JOD’s family days in Leinster House!!

  • Paula Bradshaw

    I would like to propose Belfast City Council for its consultation in February this year on the Waste Treatment Facilities at North Foreshore. Council sent information sheets and questionnaires to all households, businesses and community / voluntary groups in Belfast. I thought it worked well because it made a very boring subject interesting and presented the information very coherently and digestible. One of the few consultation processes that I’ve bothered to respond to!

  • Mick Fealty

    Great stuff Paula. Please guys, keep them coming!! That’s three already.

    What about Derry? Fermanagh? Moyle? Armagh? Craigavon? Down?

    Other bodies with direct responsibilities to the public?

    The voluntary sector? We really need to have a strong showing this time…

  • Pigeon Toes

    What about the NIABT?
    “The establishment, in 2002, of NIABT, offered parliamentarians and the business sector in Northern Ireland an alternative educational and information discussion forum around which each group could develop a greater understanding of respective needs. As an independent, neutral and self-financing educational charity, NIABT organises programmes for Assembly Members and Business representatives involving exchanges, seminars, visits and fellowship placements.”

  • Kirsty Summers

    iz is outroged at the ammont of spelin erors ins dis websit. Sart yarself oot!!!!!! URS Sinercerely Kriesty Zommers

  • Mick Fealty

    Great PT…

    Can you (or anyone else?) tell us more?

  • I would like to propose the work I have been doing at The Equality Commission NI. The Commission is establishing a method for participating and engaging with children and young people, in a bid to better inform the delivery of our services, making them more effective to these stakeholders. In researching this project the Commission has consulted with 18 youth organisations (by holding meetings with youth panel managers and members) across the whole of the province and have asked young people directly for their views on how to involve them (through youth-friendly methods). This has been successful because we involved the experts (young people) from the start and in doing so they have been able to influence proposals for this project. We have also aimed to be inclusive of all groups (including the traditionally hard-to-reach groups), and considered a wide geographic area including the West of NI and rural areas, which are too often left out. We will continue to reach out to the commnity in this way once our method of youth engagement has been agreed.

  • I’d like to nominate the winners of the ‘wooden spoon’ Jobsworth category last year – the Assembly Commission.

    I think that in the year in between the awards the Commission has gone to great lengths to reach out to the population – in particular through its ‘Road Show’ events. My reason for nominating them however is because of the work they are currently doing on the establishment of a ‘Youth Assembly’ for Northern Ireland.

    Young people from our WIMPS (Where Is My Public Servant?) project name have been campaigning for two years now for the establishment of a representative body for young people at Northern Ireland level. We have found that both the Speaker Willie Hay, and his staff, have taken the idea extremely seriously. They appear determined to create something that is meaningful and useful – where young people are more than a token symbol – but have a real role in shaping decisions about real stuff.

    They’ve also listened to a lot of criticism recently and have taken this on board, slowing down their plans and spending more time ensuring that the eventual structures are shaped by young people and their concerns.

    I agree with much of what has been said above about the consultation culture more widely in Northern Ireland – and I am depressed about the amount of it that goes on around young people masquerading as ‘participation’. So far the work on this by the Commission is a breath of fresh air!

  • Ronnie Mac

    I nominate Margaret Ritchie for her summer Departmental Roadshow. A good initiative in participation and open Government that other Ministers could take note of.

    Also shows that not all politicians go AWOL during recess.

  • basilmccreaisyoungatheart

    Public Achievement for their consistent work in enabling young people to engage with politics and polticans in a genuine non patronising way, which is a trap that many organisations and people fall into – there is a real need to get beyond ‘young people are the future’ crap and Public Achievement are there.

  • Darryn Causby

    I would like to niminate Public Achievement, because PA have very creative and innovative approaches when working with young people, The work that PA do around young people engaging with politicans it far more effective than any other project i know.
    In terms of having young people central to their work you just have to look at their website, and you will see that young people are consulted and taken seriously in every aspect of their work, this isnt a mickey mouse organisation that tells young people what it is that can do in terms of projects, the young people tell PA what the needs are, then the young people take the lead on their ideas.
    The Away from Violence Project that PA currently have running is reaching young people who have never even heard about youth work before.
    But if you cant take my word for it look at the website see for yourself or even sign up and ask the young people on the forums, and check out