Introducing the Institute’s Public Sector Committee

Brian Keaney MIPI

The Public Sector Committee is a new executive committee of the Institute set up following the reform approved at last year’s AGM. It considers and advises Council on matters relating to planning and professional planners operating in the public sector. It is also responsible for the organisation of a number of CPD events (such as the recent CPD on flooding held in Limerick) and the forthcoming Autumn Conference

In recent months the Committee has met in Limerick, Dublin and Athlone and this reflects the wide spread of the Committee members. The committee is currently convened by myself (an IPI Council member and Senior Planner in South Dublin County Council) and is chaired by Stewart Logan (Department of the Environment). Its secretary is Alan Cunniffe (formerly Kildare County Council, now Cooperative Housing Ireland). The other Committee members are Daire McDevitt (South Dublin County Council), Sonja Reidy (Tipperary County Council), Vivienne Egan (Leitrim County Council) and Eunan Quinn (Donegal County Council).

In 2015, the ‘Irish Planning Institute Survey of the Planning Profession’ was published. This survey was comprised of Local Authority planners in the Republic of Ireland and planners working within the private sector in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The survey sought to explore the existing resourcing of the planning profession and its capacity to confront the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for planners. Conducting a survey of planners working in the public sector in Northern Ireland (this was not undertaken in 2015 due to ongoing reform) is a key task being undertaken by the Committee and work on this is underway. This will present an up to date snapshot of planning in Ireland today capturing the knowledge, challenges and opportunities facing planning on the island.

Other matters being considered by the committee include technical issues such as the status of Town Development Plans in the Republic and the future skills and professional competencies required by the profession in planning authorities. This may include developing best practice examples of where planners have diversified and delivered in a number of challenging new roles and positions. 

In light of queries from members the Institute contacted the Public Appointments Service regarding their use of assessments and tests - queries in particular related to the Senior Planner and SEP competitions - to better understand their operation and rationale and possible future use. The PAS’s approach to competitions and panels generally and the criteria local authorities use for more junior planning grades has also been brought to the Institute’s attention and are being examined by the committee.  

Going forward the Committee wants to ensure the Institute proactively engages at senior management and government level to ensure that the public sector is equipped with the necessary professional planning resources to ensure service delivery. It will ensure that the IPI’s CPD offering continues to meet the skills and training needs of members and integrates with training structures within the public service (i.e. PMDS). It is also committed to ensuring that the Institute provides an opportunity for professional planners across sectors to engage with each other and fosters and encourages a collegiate approach to developing the profession.

If you wish to discuss any aspect of the Committee’s work with me further please do not hesitate to email me at

Brian Keaney MIPI
Convenor, Public Sector Committee