South Dublin County Council’s (SDCC) landmark ‘300K – Have Your Say’ initiative has been shortlisted for an Innovation in Politics Award in the “Democracy” category at the upcoming ceremony in Vienna, Austria. The Innovation in Politics Awards, which are administered by the European Innovation in Politics Institute, are judged against four criteria; Innovation, Participation, Building Trust and Sustainability. ‘300k – Have Your Say’ is one of eighty projects shortlisted from an entry list of 600 across 8 categories and voted on by a European jury of 1053 citizens. The final adjudication will take place at an awards ceremony in Vienna City Hall on November 17th.

In 2017, SDCC’s participatory budgeting initiative, the first of its kind in Ireland, allowed citizens to vote for projects designed and submitted by citizens. An additional €300,000 was provided in the annual budget specifically for this purpose. The then Mayor, Councillor Guss O’Connell and former Mayor, Dermot Looney, with the support of the entire council membership proposed that participative budgeting be piloted in a South Dublin electoral ward in 2017. The initiative rolled out in the Lucan electoral area under the brand name ‘300K –  Have Your Say’ and attracted 160 project submissions. 17 of which were shortlisted for public voting with eight projects, ranging in costs from €5,000 to €120,000 winning out. There were 2598 valid votes cast, which exceed expectations for the initiative.

The real objective, increased citizen participation in local government was achieved. The Participatory Budgeting process was independently evaluated by the Institute of Public Administration which positively endorsed the initiative. It has since been repeated in 2018 in the Clondalkin electoral area and attracted 230 project suggestions. The initiative was also awarded Best Practice in Citizen Engagement at the 2017 Chambers Ireland Excellence in Local Government Awards.