Spotlight on: The People’s Transition for Enniscorthy, TASC, and the origins of the CONUNDRUM project

The People’s Transition is a nationwide community development initiative led by TASC (Think-tank for Action on Social Change), with the support of AIB. The People’s Transition aims to identify actions that address the needs and challenges facing communities while also supporting climate justice. Following the undertaking of two pilot projects in Phibsborough, Dublin and Ardara, Co. Donegal, in 2021, TASC is now working with a diverse range of communities across the island of Ireland.

Led by Kieran Harrahill, TASC’s senior researcher in climate justice, the People’s Transition for Enniscorthy began in September 2022. The People’s Transition consists of three stages. The first stage is a mapping phase where researchers in TASC undertake a desk-based review of census data and local government reports to build an initial picture of a community. The mapping phase identified the impacts flooding has had on the town and issues relating to air quality. In the 2016 census, the Enniscorthy Urban electoral division had an unemployment rate that was approximately 20% higher than the national average, standing at 32.1%.

The information gathered during the mapping phase was used to design a listening phase. As opposed to focusing on climate change and sustainability, the listening phase focused on understanding different people’s needs and priorities. To achieve this, focus groups and interviews with community members focused on three questions: what do you like about your local area; what are the challenges facing your local area; and what do you think is lacking or what could there be more of in your local area? TASC worked closely with groups in Enniscorthy, such as Wexford Local Development and Sustainable Enniscorthy, to ensure the involvement of groups that might not typically have their voices heard. Focus groups were organised with young people, members of the Roma community and people participating in Community Employment schemes, among other community groups. 142 people participated in the engagement phase. As shown in the report design produced by illustrator Robyn Deasy, community members identified several common themes.

A range of groups identified the lack of jobs as limiting the town’s development potential. The steepness of Enniscorthy’s topography was viewed as impacting on mobility in the town. Older cohorts and members of the community with a disability were seen as being particularly impacted by hills in the town. Community members also highlighted the need for more shared transportation options. This was particularly relevant to participants who do not use private cars, with many of these people highlighting the barriers to accessing essential services that the lack of shared transportation creates. A final topic raised by community groups was the sense that there was a lack of community input in decision-making. Having completed the mapping and listening phases, the TASC team worked with relevant experts to identify potential solutions for the community that would accelerate climate action, address local needs and priorities, and build community wealth. Among the potential solutions suggested by local residents, there was a clear need for solutions on Enniscorthy’s mobility and transportation. 

At the launch of the People’s Transition report for Enniscorthy in June 2023, the findings were warmly received, and the report was covered in both local and national media, with Kieran being interviewed on the Last Word on Today FM (Kieran’s segment begins at 2:06:03). 

When researching a solution focusing on mobility, Kieran contacted Prof. Brian Caulfield, Professor in Transportation at Trinity College Dublin, about the potential for collaboration in supporting the development of a mobility-focused solution for Enniscorthy. Kieran and Brian were joined by Prof. Niamh Moore-Cherry, Professor in the UCD School of Geography. The trio worked on an application for the SFI Sustainable Communities Challenge, and it was from this that the CONUNDRUM idea was born. TASC is delighted to have the opportunity to act as the societal impact champion for CONUNDRUM, and we look forward to working with our colleagues and the people of Enniscorthy to support the co-creation of shared and sustainable mobility options for community members.