Irish project partners (from left to right): Tim Chapman (Ulster University); Ursula Fernée (Probation Service); Dr. Ian Marder (Maynooth University). Not pictured: Dr. Kieran O’Dwyer (Kennedy Institute Peacebuilding Group).
In June, the Irish partners of the new project Restorative Justice: Strategies for Change published their first national strategy. This document outlines how the project will seek to develop the use of restorative justice and restorative practices in the Irish criminal justice system. The strategy was written following substantial consultation with the project’s 220+ strong Stakeholder Group, during and subsequent to a recent symposium at Maynooth University.
The strategy is the first output of the Irish arm of Restorative Justice: Strategies for Change which also includes partners from nine other countries: Albania, Belgium, Czech Republic, Estonia, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Scotland. The international partners all met in Maynooth in April.
The Irish strategy has three pillars for the implementation of restorative justice in Ireland:
Accessibility: Safe, high quality restorative justice should be available to all victims and offenders who would benefit from participation. Access should not depend, exclusively and in the absence of other considerations, on where they live in Ireland, their age, the offence in question, or the stage of the criminal justice process. Other affected persons should also be enabled to participate in restorative justice, if victims and offenders so wish.
Knowledge: Restorative justice should be known and understood widely enough and to such an extent that all relevant persons are aware of its potential benefits and risks, and the available services.
Cultural change: All persons working in or in collaboration with the criminal justice system should be trained in restorative practices so that they are confident in using these skills, principles and processes in their day-to-day work. This will help support the development of more responsive, relational, participatory, procedurally-just and reflective organisational cultures.
Under each pillar, the strategy lists a series of objectives and potential actions which could help move this work forward in the coming years. The partners will soon release a call for people from the Stakeholder Group to contribute towards furthering one or more of the strategic pillars.
You can download the strategy from the Probation Service’s website. We would welcome further participation from anybody working within or with the Irish criminal justice system.
If you or your colleagues would like to join the Irish Stakeholder Group, please email Dr. Marder on firstname.lastname@example.org.