The Government of Ireland village is a new addition to the National Ploughing Championships and it represents a very innovative approach to how various government departments and services are engaging with the public. This is joined-up thinking at work in one of Ireland’s premier social events.
Aileen McGloin, director of marketing and communications with the all-Ireland food safety agency Safefood, says what it means to have such a gathering within the heart of the ploughing fest: “This is the first time that there’s been an all-of-government approach — a Government Village if you like — at the Ploughing Championships. There will be 19 different marquees and 140 different exhibitors across 3.2 acres. We’ve never had this kind of centrally-aligned provision of information on services to the public before. This is a co-ordinated approach.
The Government of Ireland will be at the National Ploughing Championships this year, where you can find over 150 Government Exhibitors in 19 marquees in one location - #GovVillage Visit https://t.co/OCTHf8k8T1 #GovPloughing19 pic.twitter.com/bws4DPpEmF— MerrionStreet.ie (@merrionstreet) September 5, 2019
“In the past, we would have had every different agency and different departments doing their own thing. They would all have been there, of course, but this time, they’re all there together.”
The emphasis with such an approach, she says, is more on the services that the departments and agencies provide rather than on the departments themselves. The Ploughing Championships is also one of those rare events in the national social calendar where such a large amount of people from such a broad spectrum of age groups is present in one place.
With the year that’s in it, there is a strong emphasis on Brexit.
Dr McGloin says:
“When you come down to the level of the Health & Wellbeing Marquee, which is what we’re all about, that’s led by Healthy Ireland, the Department of Health and Sláintecare (a recent government implementation strategy). In that marquee, you have got everyone from us [Safefood] with our new Start campaign aimed to promote healthy weight for children to all of the other health-related initiatives.”
As well as the different stands, there will be a central stage with various activities going on. These will include participation events such as the quiz on healthy eating and healthy living and an event called Families with personal trainer and TV personality Karl Henry. There’s also a read-aloud reading session for smaller children based on a Safefood campaign to get smaller citizens to ‘wash their hands with Rufus’ while Evelyn Cusack from Met Éireann will be giving a talk on the dangers of skin cancer.
“It’s all about linking up with other agencies to maximise the experience and engagement with the public. It’s also about improving value for money for people, when you consider the centralised procurement of the space and of the resources and also a very much enhanced experience for the attendees who won’t have to go from section to section looking for different aspects of different government resources. They’re all going to be in the one area.”