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How to Influence National Policy

How is National Policy developed in Ireland?

National policy in Ireland is decided by the government cabinet and approved by the Oireachtas. During this process, the government will welcome outside consultation and research in order to make a policy that will address the core of the issue at hand. It is during this consultation process where the community and voluntary sector has the greatest opportunity to make its voice heard.


Generally, a proposed policy goes through review periods known as Green Papers and/or White Papers. A Green Paper is a discussion document which outlines the issue and suggests solutions, balancing the advantages or disadvantages of each proposed policy decision. The Green Paper stage is an opportunity for the public to add their input to the development of the proposed national policy.


White Papers are the next stage when a policy has been decided and the government has written up the intended policy for voting and approval. This process is not always so clear-cut and many times may skip or mix some of these steps, depending on the urgency of the issue and the intensity of public discourse on the proposals.


Key Players in National Policy Decision-Making:

  • Ministers of the Cabinet & Junior Ministers
  • Department Ministers
  • State Agencies (ex: HSE)
  • National Economic & Social Council
  • Social Partners comprising the “Five Pillars” – Business & Employers, Trade Unions, Farmers, Environmental NGOs, and the Community & Voluntary Pillar
  • Political Parties
  • Think Tanks (TASC, ESRI, etc)
  • The EU
  • The Media


What is the Community & Voluntary Pillar?

The Community & Voluntary Pillar is a group of 17 organisations working in the community and voluntary sector in Ireland which serves as a national voice for the sector in national decision-making on policy.


How can a local organisation get involved?

The best ways for a local organisation to become involved in national policy development is to network and link up to create a larger voice for the government to listen to. Our Capacity Building and Resources pages have sections dedicated to networking, campaigning & lobbying, government departments, semi-state bodies, and current national policy information.


A very detailed resource for how to understand and become involved in influencing policy on a national level can be found here (please note: this document focuses specifically on poverty in Ireland and only services as a resource and example).

© 2018 Tipperary Public Participation Network