Consultation Data Generated

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Due to the large amount of data generated, this page attempts to give a sample of data generated in the e-consultation:

Who is an ‘active citizen’?

  • Encouraging action in others

‘The work carried out by myself on behalf of the BCCN, will lead to more active participation from children in settings, leading to more active citizens later in life. We begin with the youngest children trying to help practitioners see children as separate individuals with rights and responsibilities. We use listening and learning as a reflective tool for working with children in a variety of settings. We want to help children to feel confident about who they are, how they feel about themselves and how they relate to others.

  • Being pro-active

Listening and learning from children within settings and taking a pro-active approach in seeing that this becomes part of the everyday fabric of practice is a must.

  • Someone who exercise rights as well as responsibilities and is involved in community/local life in general

An active citizen is someone who exercise rights as well as responsibilities and is involved in community/local life in general e.g—vote and use it wisely, neighbour watch schemes, youth work, involvement in local/community politics. Children can also be involved in different peer forums on in clubs or within their our schools or settings. It is a democratic way of being that should be promoted. Many people are on the margins and outskirts of society and need to be brought in the from the cold more successfully.

  • Empowering others

We must begin with the youngest children [ Editing Consultation Data Generated - E-Consultation Guide] giving them a sense of autonomy and choices in relation to everyday life so that they can then grow up to make good choices and better decisions in their lives. When children feel they have choice, they feel more in control of what is happening to them and this affects everything form their self-esteem to their learning.

  • Looking after others

Since I gave up paid work to care for my child, I have never worked harder. This unpaid work that I do includes: caring for my child, supporting her school, looking after her friends after school, looking after the increased housework due to having children around, caring for a family member with a disability at weekends, and volunteering in the community with a naionra and a women’s organisation.

  • Reduced or no pay

Yet the value of my husband’s take-home pay fell in January because I am not ‘working’, I am a home carer. The value of the home carer tax credit is €770 per annum, or less than €2.11 per day for all that I do. It has not been increased since it was introduced. Even worse,home carers whose spouses are on lower incomes do not get even that. When I was in paid work, I felt that I contributed and that my contribution was reasonably recognised. Now that I contribute many more hours, albeit not in the workforce, all this has changed. Until we allow all those who are active citizens, contributing to society and the economy on an unpaid basis, to have a decent life, people will increasingly take up paid work to the detriment of the life of our communities.

  • Being a citizen

I have a question. What does it mean to be Irish? Does the state recognise (truly recognise) black people as citizens because I think there seems to be some uncertainty. If we can answer this question, it becomes easier for me to give my view of what an active citizen is. It is not just about taking part in elections though taking part in elections is a vital part of the role. It is about being interested and informed on matters political, social, social policy and nationhood. It is also about participating, to what ever level one is able, in local and community affairs...

  • Representing the under-represented

Yes I am an active citizen. I work for and represent my community , specifically women on different commitees and public bodies. I do this because I recognise the need to build women’s capacity to become more involved within their own communities and at local, regional and national level.

  • Being active

Being an active citizen means being involved in your community from the lowest level to the highest level. Building the capacity of your community, organising/taking part/representing/raising awareness of key issues / working towards betterment of community and civil society. I think that anyone who gets involved (especially without any financial gain) is an active citizen. This can be something as simple as picking up litter outside their own homes, in their local amenities, such as playgrounds and sports fields, as well as taking park in their local Tidy Towns clean up days.

  • Taking a stand

Active citizenship is, I believe, a fine ideal. There are many wonderful opportunities for people to contribute as volunteers in society but community development can be a vicious nasty place. My experience is that bullying is the norm. If you disagree or try to express a different point of view to ‘the consensus’ (which is decided by one or two individuals) you will be punished, treated as a trouble maker. The choices you have are conform, engage in endless conflict or vote with your feet. Personally I’ve chosen to vote with my feet. I’ve never found anything resembling community in my neighbourhood outside of schools and churches. What I’ve found is endless struggles for power and control by people with no integrity and no morals. Communities are not in chaos because people are not active citizens—people are not active citizens because communities are in chaos. It’s a vicious cycle. There’s no point in telling people to be nice. The culture needs to change.’

What should the role of the State be in ‘active citizenship’?

  • No role - it's personal responsibility

I am uncomfortable with a "political agenda" behind the concept of active citizenship... Living in a democracy that is more a representative than a participative one, can one realistically be an active citizen? The concept of active citizenship is used, politically, to reinforce the social norms of society, and promote the needs of those in power, rather than being used to challenge and transform a society, the notion of hegemony comes to mind. “Community Involvement”, “Participation”, “Empowerment” are all phrases associated with active citizenship, but unless the state is willing to transfer some of its power and trust its members to actually participate in the development of a representative democracy, then the concept of an active citizen becomes a myth. Is active citizenship being introduced because the public are becoming increasingly disenchanted with and disenfranchised from Politics and the state sees it as being a way of re-engaging? If so I would hate to think that, as happened under Thatcher in the UK in the 1980’s, we create a society of individualism where active citizenship is something that is encouraged amongst those who agree with the popular discourse and those outside of this are even more marginalised; where active citizenship means personal responsibility, rather than responsibility to society.

  • Role - If government gets closer to the people

If the state is really committed to active citizenship, then it must be totally committed to devolution of power. There has been a lot of rhetoric about decentralisation, and how this will bring government closer to the people; however in reality what it means is we will still be operating a centralised government system, with the decentralised offices being the spokes in a wheel, the hub of which is Dublin. It is about the displacement of labour, rather than the devolution of power and a way of involving citizens in the democratic process.

  • Role - After considerable change

Within the debate on active citizenship, we therefore need to also consider a debate on what democracy actually means to us, how we can more fully participate in this process and how at a very local level our views and concerns can be effectively articulated. I would argue that if we are to promote active citizenship, then we need to take community development very seriously, in particular the process of conscientization. We need to reflect on what it is to be a citizen in the state, what we are told being a citizen means, how it actually is for us in reality and what type of society we would like to actively participate in, within this identifying contradictions and ways of overcoming them. Only then can we take forward a notion of active citizenship, and really empower people to take part in a dialogue with the state on the role of the citizen in transforming society.

[In response to this submission] I agree we need to take community development seriously. Many neighbourhoods are in crisis and words like community and development are bandied about like anyone even knows what they mean. We need more than to reflect, ask questions and use fine words. Activists have been quoting Freire since the 60’s but lots of people just want to get out of those neighbourhood before the stress kills them.

  • Role - Educate and Train

The state should actively support those working towards empowering others to become active citizens. How? By financially resourcing projects and programmes that educate and support those most disadvantaged and without a voice. Much of this has been left to the community and voluntary sector and no doubt good if not great work has been carried out by them it has been delivered on a shoestring. If it were not for those volunteers committed to making society better many projects would have collapsed while waiting on funding coming from government etc. Education and training in this area is paramount if we are to move society forward

  • Role - Legislate and integrate

[From a voice-mail] My opinion on active citizenship and what government can do is to incorporate all the United Nations principals for older persons and specifically talking a bout active citizenship for older persons and if older people are able to be integrated in community they could be active citizens.