The values and principles document was co-developed by the State and the community and voluntary sector. Speaking at the launch Rachel Doyle of Community Work Ireland warned that without commitment the document “will remain simply words on a page”.
She is optimistic, yet nevertheless said, “I don’t think any of us want to see tokenism or a tick box exercise happening.”
She pointed out that the agreed set of values and the accompanying principles are “all interdependent”.
“They all require direct consideration and reflection on ways in which they can be put into practice. Without reflection and commitment to proactively ensuring they inform and impact on the design and development of policies and programmes, in particular those designed to meet the urgent and pressing needs of marginalised communities, they will remain simply words on a page,” she said.
She was upbeat, encouraged even, by commitment to date.
“We are very heartened by the statement we are making today. We think further commitment has been given to ensuring that the values are mainstreamed and accepted in the policymaking processes across government at national and local level,” she said.
She recalled how they began work on the document:
“At work we discussed the importance of a shared set of values and that did not come naturally to us.
“We knew what the ethos was, which was about supporting communities, giving them a say in decisions that would affect their lives, empowering communities.”
She noted the agreed values and principles echo commitments given in the Programme for Government, in the Roadmap for Social Inclusion and in international human rights treaties.
“We have to be able to say what we stand for, what we stand against, what we are willing to support in terms of equality, justice and human rights.
“Overcoming the challenges requires us to work together. We don’t have a choice. All of us have something important to offer.
“To assume that putting values into practice would be naïve. It requires all of us to engage in ongoing trust-building, increased power-sharing, mutual recognition and respect and putting in place structures, processes and the dreaded resources.
“It requires us too to collectively challenge those who promote racism, sexism and disharmony in our communities and in society, including those who align with far right actors.
“I thank Minister O’Brien and all our colleagues and friends in the Department of Rural and Community Development for your work in seeking to ensure that those who need to be heard are heard and in your efforts to achieve what we all hope will be a stronger, better democracy,” she concluded.