Country Idealist Profiles

Ireland – A move to a more integrated approach of better local public service – County / City Development Boards (CDBs)

Posted in Ireland, Ireland - Local Administration by blopote on August 14, 2008

The public sector in Ireland is large and complex, delivering many essential and varied services.  These organisations and agencies report more or less directly vertically to their parent Departments.  This means that ensuring horizontal integrated service delivery across all these bodies at local level is therefore not easy.  Neither is co-ordination with other interests e.g. business, local communities, farming bodies.  While most public sector organisations have local arrangements for delivering their services there is no coherent framework within which these and local development services are delivered.  Much more could be done if all these agencies and bodies operating locally were given the opportunity to come together and agree a common approach at local level.

To try to address this challenge of better local service integration at city and county level the Government introduced County / City Development Boards.  These Boards were established in 2000 as the mechanism to work out an agreed vision for their city or county with a purpose of better integration of public and local service delivery.  These boards comprised the four key pillars of local government, local development agencies, the State agencies and the social partners (the pillar which represents the following sectors – Business & Employers; Agriculture and Farming Organisations, Trade Unions and the Community & Voluntary Sector).  These Boards bring together the key agencies and bodies in each county /city to engage in the long-term planning for the city or county.  This means that there is an opportunity for these partners to agree a common approach about public services that are delivered locally in their area.  The Boards consist of on average 30 members across the 4 pillars.  Each Board works in partnership and decisions made are by consensus.  The Board is chaired by an elected member of the County or City Council.  A Director of Services for Community & Enterprise and support staff appointed by each County and City Council supports and facilitates the boards in its work.  In 2002, each County and City Development Board in Ireland published its ten-year strategy. These strategies were essentially about the economic, social and culture development of the respective county and city. While the strategies are for ten years, they are broken down into three to five year targets. These agreed targets not only set down achievable goals but also set in place the agency in each  area that will oversee the achievement of these targets. These strategies are the key vehicles through which improved local service coordination is to be achieved.

The County / City Development Boards represent an opportunity for:

  • all sectors of the community to come together and agree a blueprint for the development of the county or city
  • improved co-ordination of public services at local level and ensuring that these meet the real needs of citizens
  • maximum impact of individual groups´ efforts through co-operation and co-ordination
  • building on the experience and insight which all Board members will bring to the process
  • emphasising the need to involve local communities in decisions about their own futures
  • meaningful involvement by those who feel marginalised in our society and a vehicle to tackle social exclusion issues in a co-ordinated way
  • an agreed vision for the future

Towards 2016 (National Social Partnership Agreement) contains a commitment to strengthen and develop the CDBs to ensure that they can operate effectively as a vehicle for supporting a more integrated approach to service delivery at local level.

For further information on the CDB process and to access related publications, you can access the CDB website


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