Five local and national projects from Ireland have reached the final of this year’s prestigious Innovation in Politics awards.
The projects from SHE – See Her Elected, Mayo County Council, Meath County Council, and Longford County Council are among 90 European entries. With 25 European countries represented, Ireland’s entries secured finalist positions in the community, democracy, economy, and quality of life categories.
The Innovation in Politics Awards recognise courageous and creative political projects in Europe. This year, 413 projects were submitted by politicians from across Europe, with the finalists chosen by a jury of 1,032 European citizens.
“It is a huge achievement to have five finalists in these Europe-wide awards,” said Professor Deiric Ó Broin, Professor of Public Policy Practice in the School of Law and Government in Dublin City University. DCU is the Irish partner of the Innovation in Politics Institute, which has offices in Vienna and Berlin, and representatives in countries across Europe.
“The Irish finalists are an example of the innovation that is driving local and national politics. Improving female representation in politics, regenerating local communities and economies, making businesses more responsive to older people – these are responses tailored to specific challenges and opportunities in Ireland and will impact positively on society at every level.”
The winners of the awards will be announced in events across Europe taking place from December 2021 until February 2022. “Those in politics who are creative and courageous are rewarded by their citizens at home, but also at the Innovation in Politics Awards, so that others across Europe can draw inspiration from their work,” said Edward Strasser, CEO and co-founder of the Innovation in Politics Institute.
The five Irish finalists in the Innovation in Politics Awards are:
Community: Mayo County Council collaborated with local stakeholders in Night Skies Mayo, a community-driven project protecting County Mayo’s dark skies, benefitting local ecology and boosting tourism. Mayo International Dark Sky Park involved partnerships between local stakeholders to reduce environmental light pollution and promote Mayo as a haven for innovations in dark sky tourism.
Democracy: SHE – See Her Elected is a community-led initiative that supports women into politics in rural areas of Ireland, strengthening local and national democracy by increasing the diversity of political participation. SHE is targeted at increasing the numbers of women in local politics in the rural Northwest-Midlands Region of Ireland, where anything from 78% to 95% of the elected local authority councillors are men. SHE is fully funded by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage under the stewardship of Minister Peter Burke TD.
Economy: Meath County Council is the lead local authority in the Age Friendly Business Recognition Programme, under the auspices of Age Friendly Ireland. The programme provides training and support for businesses to help them make their services age friendly and involved older people in advising business about changes they would like to see
Economy: Longford County Council was the first council in Ireland to develop a Rural Working Hub Strategy that suited the needs of the local community. State-of-the-art Rural Working Hubs in three towns facilitate remote working, provide a base for entrepreneurs and start-ups, contribute towards a low-carbon future, help redevelop a digital strategy in and boost regeneration of Longford’s towns and villages.
Quality of Life: Mayo County Council is the lead authority on the Vacant Homes initiative. The Vacant Homes web portal allows people to log vacant homes in their area and, once registered, an alert is sent to the relevant local authority vacant-home officer.
The aim is to help create new homes from existing vacant dwellings, rejuvenating areas in decline and sustaining community services such as schools and shops.
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