Addendum to “Public? What Public?”

In my previous blog I reported that in response to the 1200 submissions on the Green Paper on Energy Policy in Ireland, the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources had convened a single workshop scheduled to commence at 2.00 p.m. on 21 October.

I was overly generous in my estimate that the afternoon workshop would be two hours long.

It is in fact 90 minutes long. 90 minutes to discuss Priority 3 issues and 1200 submissions on the energy policy for the entire country.

This is compared to 4 hours given to the ‘paying customers’ who will be wined and dined at lunch to end off the session.

This is a copy of the confirmatory letter to a delegate to that afternoon workshop:

Dear Energy Stakeholder,

Thank you for your application to register to attend a workshop on 21st October to consider the Priority 3 issues (“Planning and Implementing Essential Energy Infrastructure”) in the Energy Green Paper.

I am pleased to advise that we have been able to accommodate one of your applications, and one of you is registered to attend. Can you please give me the name of the person attending.

The workshop will commence at 2.00 pm in the Stratocaster Suite of the Gibson Hotel, Point Village, Dublin 1, and will conclude at 3.30 pm.

Please note that we have reached the maximum number that can be accommodated in this room; please therefore do not bring others with you who have not themselves received confirmation that they have been registered as they will not be admitted.

As previously advised, this event is being held immediately after a seminar entitled “Planning for Energy Infrastructure” at the same venue. Details and registration information for that event can be found at

I look forward to seeing you on 21st October.

Best regards,

Bob Hanna

Chief Technical Advisor

Department of Communications, Energy & Natural Resources

29-31 Adelaide Road

Dublin 2

About Neil van Dokkum

Neil van Dokkum (B. SocSc; LLB; LLM; PGC Con.Lit) Neil is a law lecturer and has been so since arriving in Ireland from South Africa in 2002. Prior to that Neil worked in a leading firm of solicitors from 1987-1992, before being admitted as an Advocate of the Supreme Court of South Africa (a barrister) in 1992. He published three books in South Africa on employment law and unfair dismissal, as well as being published in numerous national and international peer-reviewed journals. Neil currently specialises in employment law, medical negligence law, family law and child protection law. He dabbles in EU law (procurement and energy). Neil retired from full-time practice in 2002 to take up a lecturing post. He has published three books since then, “Nursing Law for Irish Students (2005); “Evidence” (2007); and “Nursing Law for Students in Ireland” (2011). His current interest is the area of disability as a politico-economic construct. Neil is very happily married to Fiona, and they have two sons, Rory and Ian.
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5 Responses to Addendum to “Public? What Public?”

  1. Nigel Hillis says:

    I’m very much looking forward to being wined and dined!

  2. Nigel Hillis says:

    Its not lasagne – Its chicken McNulty!

  3. The Friends of the Earth submission on the Green Paper was a combined submission that was the outcome of collaboration between FOE, Cork Environmental Forum and others. It is a very well-considered and constructive document, and in view of the sentiments expressed in it, I was surprised to see that their Policy and Campaigns Manager, Kate Ruddock, will be delivering a paper to the eolas seminar in Dublin on Tuesday next week. I have therefore sent the following email to Friends of the Earth:

    Your combined submission on the Green Paper contains some excellent recommendations.In his letter to Minister Rabbitte dated 30 Apr 2014 that is contained in it, Oisin Coghlan urges the minister to implement the principles of the Aarhus Convention, with a view to a fully participative consultation process.

    In particular, the paragraph on page 22 which makes the point that “The Green Paper consultation needs to openly engage people on the very significant scale of the challenge we face, and give the people of Ireland the opportunity to play an active role in developing meaningful solutions” cuts to the core of the challenges ahead.

    I wholeheartedly echo your sentiments – public resistance is new phenomenon, and it has arisen from lack of information, short review times, and in some cases a distinct lack of good faith on the part of big-money developers.

    The forthcoming DCENR Priority 3 seminar appears to share this attribute in that there is a “partner” seminar of 4 hours in the morning hosted by eolas magazine (and attended by the DCENR staff) and a “public” seminar (without agenda) of 1½ hours in the afternoon hosted by DCENR.The eolas seminar has an attendance fee of €239.00 which effectively excludes attendance by any unwaged members of the public who may wish to actively contribute to public participation.

    I note that the FOE Policy and Campaigns Manager, Kate Ruddock, will be delivering a paper to the eolas seminar entitled “Overcoming the barriers to the development of community owned renewable energy projects”. Do you plan to make her valuable contribution available to members of the public, who may be living on the old-age pension (as I am) or may be otherwise unable to afford to attend the eolas seminar and hear what she has to say?

    FOE has an important role to play in promoting active public participation and buy-in for the steps we all need to take to underpin a sustainable future.Please don’t let your high standing credibility become devalued by association with those who regard the public with a modicum of contempt.

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