Citizens' forum discusses pathways to an equal Ireland

1,000 people have gathered at the RDS today to discuss ways of achieving an equal, sustainable, and inclusive Ireland. The Claiming Our Future (COF) event, organised by civil society groups such as Is Feidir Linn, Social Justice Ireland and the Community Platform, aims to debate and agree on alternative policies for dealing with the recession. By Alison Spillane

The movement began in January of this year when six civil society groups met to discuss ways of co-ordinating action to achieve a more equal and proactive Ireland. From these initial discussions, the movement has grown to include a wide range of organisations.

Participants in the event come from all sectors of society and among those represented are trade unions, community and voluntary groups and the education, arts and culture sector.

The day is divided into three main sessions where attendees will first discuss the values that COF should promote in the current climate such as equality, accountability, solidarity, environmental sustainability and human dignity. Each table is asked to decide on five key values which are then submitted – the results are presented at the end of each session.

The following two sessions will concentrate on potential policy choices COF should focus on and agreement on the kind of action that should be taken to advance these policy choices.

The groups will be asked to list the policy choices in order of preference in four groups – Economy & environment, Income, wealth & work, Governance, and Access to services and public sector renewal.

Mary Murphy, part of the organising group, opened the event. She stressed that COF is "very much a work in progress" and one of the main aims of the initiative is to provide Irish citizens with a space for diaolgue. The emphasis of the day is on discussion and turning the current crisis into a positive turning point for the country.

Follow the liveblog of the event here.

14.00 Session 1 Results. The following values were voted the most important for COF to promote at the moment: Equality, Environmental Sustainability, Accountability, Participation and Solidarity. The values of Justice and Human Dignity also ranked high.

14.39 Session 2a Results. In terms of Economy and environment, the two policies prioritised by participants were:

(i) Change the current development model and define and measure progress in a balanced way that stresses economic security and social and environmental sustainability.

(ii) Regulate banking to change the culture from one of speculative banking to one where currently state-owned banks and new local banking models focus on guaranteeing credit to local enterprises and communities.

14.44 Session 2b Results. With regard to Income, wealth and work, the most highly ranked proposals were:

(i) Achieve greater income equality and reduce poverty through wage, tax and income policies that support maximum and minimum income thresholds.

(ii) Prioritise high levels of decent employment with a stimulus package to maximise job creation in a green/social economy.

16.11 Session 3a Results. Concerning Governance, the following proposals were voted for:

(i) Reform representative political institututions to enhance accountability, equality, capacity, and efficiency of national and local decision makers.

(ii) Develop participatory and deliberative forms of citizens' engagement in public governance and enhance democratic participation by fostering the advocacy role of civil society organisations, civics and ethics education in all school levels and a diverse media.

16.18 Session 3b Results. On Access to services and public sector renewal the most popular policy proposals were:

(i) Provide universal access to quality healthcare, childcare and services for older people.

(ii) Invest in equality in access to and participation in all levels of education (preschool to university).

The full agenda for the day is available at: