Fingal County Council’s Our Balbriggan project has been short-listed for a top European award by The Innovation in Politics Institute, a Vienna-based organisation which works on a nonpartisan, pan-European level to enable politicians from different countries to share best practice, to network and to build bridges.
The Our Balbriggan project is one of 10 finalists in the Democracy category which honours political work that increases participation of citizens in opinion forming and decision making. The other finalists are from Ukraine (2), Poland (2), Lithuania, Belgium, Switzerland, France and Italy.
The Our Balbriggan project saw 25% of the town’s population involved in the consultation process which led to the publication of the Our Balbriggan Rejuvenation Plan and a commitment to delivering 93 action items with the aim of creating a vibrant, inspiring place, where residents to want to live, relax, and work.
The Innovation in Politics Awards are for the best political projects from across Europe and there are nine categories with the winners being selected by a jury of more than 1,000 European citizens who award their points in an online evaluation procedure that marks each project on its levels of innovation, participation and sustainability. The winners in each category will be announced on December 3.
The Our Balbriggan project was nominated for the Innovation in Politics Awards by local councillors, Cllr Grainne Maguire and Cllr Tony Murphy, both of whom are members of the Balbriggan Leadership Group which has been charged with developing a long-term socio-economic strategy for the town.
They, along with Cllr Séana Ó Rodaigh, Cllr Tom O’Leary and Cllr Karen Power, represent the Balbriggan Electoral Area on Fingal County Council.
Cllr Grainne Maguire said: “To be short-listed for a European award that celebrates innovation in politics is a huge honour for Balbriggan. The level of engagement we have achieved with the community for Our Balbriggan has made people across Ireland, and now Europe, sit up and realise that communities are interested in having a say in about the future of where they live. It’s great that what we have done in Balbriggan is being held up as an excellent example for others across Europe.”
Cllr Tony Murphy said: “The Our Balbriggan project is an exemplar in a democratic process that has encouraged and facilitated a high level of public engagement. From the very beginning we were very conscious that the community had to be involved in the drafting of plans for their town. Being a finalist for a prestigious European award is a further endorsement that the process is recognised for the successful engagement that took place and led to the Our Balbriggan Strategy.”
Professor Brian MacCraith, Chair of the Balbriggan Leadership Group, said: “The voice of the people of Balbriggan has been to the forefront throughout the Our Balbriggan process and they have proved themselves more than equal to the task of grasping the opportunity for change through new thinking, fresh leadership and ambitious initiatives. What has happened in Balbriggan over the past two years has been really innovative and has translated the voice of the people into concrete actions for the benefit of the whole community. I am delighted that this has been recognised by the Innovation in Politics Institute.”
Mayor of Fingal, Cllr David Healy, said: “Our Balbriggan focuses on community-driven renewal by strengthening relationships between society and the economy to create a more resilient, sustainable Balbriggan. The Innovation in Politics Awards showcase how innovation can strengthen, further develop and inspire democratic politics and it is a great honour for Fingal County Council that the Our Balbriggan project has been short-listed for a pan-European award.”
The Chief Executive of Fingal County Council, AnnMarie Farrelly, said: “Our Balbriggan is one of Fingal County Council’s flagship projects and has already received awards here in Ireland for the innovative way it harnessed the community to participate in the making of a plan for their town. As a Council we are always looking to see how we can do things better and having Our Balbriggan in the running for a major European award is testimony to the great work done by the Balbriggan Leadership Group, our councillors and our staff.”
Further information on the Innovation in Politics Awards 2020 can be found at www.innovationinpolitics.eu/en/ and at https://innovationinpolitics.eu/en/best-practice/our-balbriggan-rejuvenation-plan-2019-2025/
In 2019 the Our Balbriggan project won an Excellence in Local Government Award for Best Practice in Citizen Engagement and an Excellence in Public Relations Award for Best Public Sector Campaign.