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E-Consultation: evaluating appropriate technologies and processes for citizens’ participation in public policy

In March 2003, Queen's University Belfast, the University of Maynooth and Limerick IT applied for a €580,000 research grant on e-consultation. It was accepted by the Higher Education Agency in Dublin by July and finally awarded in January 2004.


E-consultation is the use of electronic computing and communication technologies in consultation and is complementary to existing consultation mechanisms. It is software used to support human mediation, negotiation and decision-making processes. Our aim is to turn e-consultation in Northern Ireland and the border counties from an experimental idea to a practical option for community, voluntary and public sector bodies. This will strengthen democracy through engaging citizens in governance and improving consultation processes.

Our objectives are:

  1. To identify the social context and political implications of electronic forms of consultation and participation in Ireland, North and South.
  2. To identify the e-consultation technologies and processes that are most appropriate to the needs of diverse local communities and to determine the best ways to apply these technologies and processes, focussing on the identified needs.
  3. To advise, help, study and evaluate at least two electronic consultation exercises over the project period, and report on what has been learned from them.
  4. To disseminate the results of our research through an online e-consultation guide and training workshops to help groups develop their awareness of and basic skills in e-consultation

Project details