Trust Holds Seminar on OGP

Trust Holds Seminar on OGP

20 May 2014

Last week, the Building Change Trust hosted a seminar on the potential implementation of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) in Northern Ireland.

The event, which took place at Riddel Hall in Belfast, welcomed panellists across the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sector.

The OGP is an international framework of government commitments to transparency, accountability and citizen participation.

It functions in each signatory country via a government-civil society partnership, the role of the latter being to both support and hold governments to account for the commitments it has made.

Despite both the UK and Republic of Ireland governments signing up, Northern Ireland seems to be falling between the cracks and the Trust has identified the OGP as a vital mechanism that local civil society could benefit from.

Speaking at the event, Tim Hughes, Open Government Programme Manager, Involve, explained the nature of how OGP works, highlighting the UK process to date.

He said: “Involve and other members of the UK network would like to broaden their impact in future to include devolved regions. The current UK OGP action plan was one of the most successful co-creation processes anywhere in the world to date, notwithstanding the limited geographic reach".

Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International NI, speaking on the theme of the health of transparency, participation and accountability in Northern Ireland said that for many the term ‘Open Government’ is an oxymoron.

Adding: “We have heard rhetoric from the First Minister and Deputy First Minister back in 2009 saying they should be as open and transparent as possible, but experience since has been anything but. We should seize the Open Government agenda but it is not going to be easy – it’s a very long game”.

All speakers highlighted the need to convene an OGP working group to support the implementation in Northern Ireland, with the underlying aim to bring inclusivity and openness to real people across society.

Building Change Trust’s Paul Braithwaite said: “We believe that OGP could potentially be used to embed citizen participation at the heart of governance in Northern Ireland, to advocate for particular measures to enhance transparency and participation.

“Over 1000 commitments have so far been made by governments as part of the OGP towards transparency, accountability and participation around the world and we want to make sure Northern Ireland is a part of this".

Over the coming months the Trust will play a key role in supporting this progress. For further information on the Trust’s work in this area, keep up to date by clicking here or follow us on Twitter @ChangeTrust.