Mandatory voting,  participatory budgeting and connected politics could deepen democracy in Northern Ireland 

Foundation News

Mandatory voting,  participatory budgeting and connected politics could deepen democracy in Northern Ireland 

30 Aug 2019

Participants from a range of charities and voluntary organisations across Northern Ireland joined the Community Foundation to share input and discuss how our Civic Innovation Programme, with the aim of enabling a deeper democracy could work in Northern Ireland.

90% of those that attended strongly believe that the NI assembly does not enable ordinary people to have a meaningful say in decision making, highlighting the need for more community voice and participation.

Alongside voiced concerns about the lack of progression with the Northern Ireland Assembly, it was clear that those attending believe that the traditional routes of politics are not working.

“Growing community voices is vital to changing this, empowering people and making sure that politics goes beyond politicians”

At the Foundation, we believe that everyone has the right to participate in the decisions that affect their lives and shape the society they live in.  Our Community Voice strategy does just that. It supports groups in Northern Ireland campaigning for people and communities to have a meaningful say over the decisions that affect their lives.

Having discussed what needs to happen for people and communities to have a meaningful say in decision making in Northern Ireland,  a community rights act, mandatory voting and connected politics were some of the many suggestions made.

Participants created unique ideas for introducing democracy into decision making on a wide range of issues and projects such as;  what our community would be like if the peace walls were taken down to more deliberate space for youth led participatory budgeting approaches.

“Time to change the democratic and citizen engagement narrative here and this is one already tested mechanism” said Janene Ware,  Bytes Project

Paul Braithwaite , Head of Innovation and Voice at the Foundation thanked everyone that attended and siad  “As we shape our plans for supporting communities to have a voice in Northern Ireland, it is inspiring to hear how together we can overcome these barriers and deepen democracy”


Our Civic Innovation programme opening this autumn will stimulate and support innovative ideas and approaches that put people at the centre of decision-making in Northern Ireland. Open to all voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations, a combination of intensive project design support and technical expertise on public participation and grant-funding will facilitate emerging and new initiatives and the programme will have two key strands:

Civic Activism – for organisations with a specific project idea who could benefit from design and technical support alongside grant-funding

Democracy Lab – for organisations and individuals who want to collaborate around the development and delivery of new ideas to enhance democracy

Participants will have opportunities to learn from one other, to collaborate and to access international networks and knowledge around deliberative democracy. Keep an eye on our social media channels and website for more details.


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