What is the Civic Forum and do we really need it?

What’s that you say? Civic Forum? What on earth is that? It’s easier to say what its not. It’s not a Seanad for Northern Ireland. It would be a bit embarrassing building an upper story to Stormont’s Parliamentary architecture just as Dublin is considering getting rid of theirs…

But the Assembly has voted to bring back what will be a standing consultative body after the SDLP lay down a motion to that effect. Newton Emerson is less than impressed.

His piece in yesterday’s Irish News begs two questions:

– What will actually do? (ie, will it be of any use?)

– Who’s going to be on it, and by what (undemocratic) means will they be appointed?

And then perhaps provokes a third, how will its membership change and evolve over time?

There’s not been a Civic Forum for nearly eleven years, though there has been a consultation by OFMdFM… As the RCN submission notes:

We are concerned that not a lot of reflection on the learning from the original Civic Forum has been provided by OFMDFM to inform this consultation process.

So what do you think?

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty