European Commission Selects Mid-West Regional Authority To Receive E-Inclusion Award

From: Dunphy Public Relations
Published: Tue Oct 28 2008

The CitizenFirst Project, which is led by the MWRA and co-funded by INTERREG North West Europe, is one of just 35 shortlisted entries that impressed the judging panel in the 2008 European e-Inclusion Awards.

As a medallist in the ‘Inclusive Public Services’ category, the Mid-West Regional Authority has been invited to exhibit at the e-Inclusion Ministerial Conference and Exhibition in Vienna from November 30 to December 2, 2008. Overall winners in each category will be announced during the Conference and Exhibition.

The EU CitizenFirst Project seeks to reduce the digital divide that affects communities and citizens in the territories of Mid-West Region (Ireland), Eindhoven Region (Netherlands), West Flanders (Belgium) and Cambridgeshire (UK).

Among the pilot Information and Communication Technology projects being rolled out across the Mid West is an online dictionary of accessible cultural and recreational services, the promotion of assistive technologies in libraries and the provision of Public Internet Kiosks in Clare, Limerick and North Tipperary.

MWRA Director Mr. Liam Conneally expressed delight at receiving official recognition from the European Commission.

Commenting on the background to and success of the CitizenFirst Project, Mr. Conneally stated, "Services for citizens are increasingly being deployed by public agencies on a supply-side efficiency basis, without actually determining the needs and wishes of the citizen. This has led to low usage of the services by many citizens, especially those with special needs and/or living in rural areas. To date CitizenFirst pilot projects throughout the Midwest have successfully concentrated on refocusing local and regional activities from organisation driven services to citizen centric/more accessible services."

He continued, "The project has led to the successful implementation of services which bypass the vertical structures of their organisation to instead focus and be deployed around the stated need of the citizen, thus greatly improving their accessibility, usability and relevance to people's lives. This bottom up approach allows for services to better fit the lifestyle of citizen."

The CitizenFirst Project also acknowledges that some target groups remain at risk of further exclusion with the digitalisation of public services. In the last year, the project has been working closely with these target groups to further gain the participation of hard to reach, marginalised groups and people with special needs.

Established by the European Commission, the 2008 European e-Inclusion Awards celebrate the best and most imaginative uses of Information and Communication Technology (ICT). Through the Awards, the Commission aims to inspire industry, governments and other organisations to better exploit the potential of technology to reduce social and digital exclusion.

Despite society’s increasing dependence on digital technology, an estimated one in three Europeans fails to participate or benefit from the information society. Overcoming digital exclusion is not only a social necessity. It will be worth billions to European companies and governments over the next five years.

The 2008 European e-Inclusion Awards received more than 469 entries with participation from every European Union country.


Notes to Editor:
- Further information on the Citizen First project is available from the CitizenFirst website: or the MWRA website: The MWRA can be contacted by telephone (067) 33197 or by email at
- For more on the European e-Inclusion Awards see
- High-resolution images of Mr. Liam Conneally, MWRA Director are available on request. Please contact Mark Dunphy of Dunphy Public Relations on 086-8534900 or

Mark Dunphy
Dunphy Public Relations
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