Irish Law, Policy and Reports
The Penal Policy Review says that the Department of Justice will (p.23) ‘Work with all criminal justice agencies to build capacity to deliver restorative justice, safely and effectively’ as one of its 21 Actions, with a policy proposal to be published and an implementation plan agreed in Q3 2022.
The Department of Justice Action Plan commits to publish policy proposals on the awareness and availability of restorative justice services in 2021.
In 2020, RJ was ‘further integrated into Probation supervision practice […] implementing restorative justice in forty cases covering a range of offences [and] saw a shift to the use of online platforms to deliver [RJ] interventions.’ (p.16)
The new framework includes, as a Safety & Security measure, that prison staff should ‘use conflict prevention, mediation, restorative justice principles or other interventions to prevent and resolve conflicts’.
This 2019 report about Inchicore and Kilmainham argued that a ‘dedicated [and] bespoke Restorative Practice initiative to break the cycle of youth offending in the area’ should be developed.
This 2015 evaluation found that participants experienced the local RJ programme positively, and estimated a social return on investment of €2.92 per Euro.
This guide describes the steps in establishing a new community-wide Restorative Practices Programme. It includes sections on preparing, planning, implementing and bedding in RP.
The report recommended implementing restorative justice nationally. It also estimated that ‘between 3,625 and 7,250 criminal case disposals before the courts could be by means of a restorative justice option’.
Sections 26, 29-43 and 78-87 of the Children Act (as amended) provide for Juvenile Liaison Officers and Probation to use restorative processes with young people under their supervision.
A new pilot project will enable Gardaí to refer cases directly to RJC – see pp. 71-73 for more.
The Department of Justice Criminal Justice Policy team will ‘agree an implementation plan’ to ‘deliver restorative justice safely and effectively’ in Q2 of 2022 (p.33).
Le Chéile’s Annual Report says they are ‘committed to a restorative approach’ and trained 95 people in RJ, as well as supporting 21 young people through RJ, in 2021.
Supporting a Victim's Journey: A Plan to Help Victims and Vulnerable Witnesses in Sexual Violence Cases, 2020
The Department of Justice ‘will establish a multi-agency group to scope requirements for a more integrated consistent, visible and high quality restorative justice service for vulnerable victims’ and ensure that practitioners working in sexual violence have appropriate training.
‘[Interventions] that embodied restorative or therapeutic philosophies […] were more effective than those based on strategies of control or coercion involving, for example, surveillance, deterrence and discipline.’ (p.34)
The Charter outlines victims’ rights and entitlements to services. Find more on restorative justice in Section 3, 9 and 10 from An Garda Síochána, the National Forensic Mental Health Service and the Probation Service, respectively.
The IPS commits to ‘Exploring and examining mechanisms for incorporating restorative justice principles throughout the Irish Prison Service’.
Sections 7 and 26 of the Act discuss citizens’ rights to receive information from Gardaí about restorative justice, and how the restorative justice process should be delivered, respectively. Section 34 also amends relevant parts of the Children Act 2001.
The Review ‘welcome[s] the expansion by the Probation Service of existing [restorative justice] projects and programmes’ and ‘recommends the extension of the restorative justice programmes’.
The Department of Justice and the new GBV agency will ‘Examine the role and potential of victim/ survivor-led restorative justice initiatives as part of a suite of options post-conviction and stage of release into the community’ (p.37).
‘In 2021, a draft Restorative Practices strategy was developed for consideration and implementation. The completion of the draft Strategy was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and has been prioritised for delivery in Q2 2022. RP has been embedded in Recruit Prison Officer training’ (p.63).
‘We have embedded the principles of Restorative Practices (RP) into our RPO training. A new RP module has been devised by IPSC Tutors at is delivered as part of the syllabus. In addition, all HCCC modules, in Semester 1, are delivered in a manner which reflects and utilises RP language and principles.’ (p.54)
PIPS 2020 made reference to the ’emerging practice’ of restorative justice as a growing area of penal policy, supported by a range of international and national legal and policy frameworks (p. 41).
The 2020 Programme for Government commits to ‘Work with all criminal justice agencies to build capacity to deliver restorative justice, safely and effectively’.
This socio-economic and community plan argues that a restorative practice programme can ‘change the cultural experience of children engaging with authority’ (p.79).
This 2020 report outlines the development of the initiative from 2016-2019 in Castlerea and in other prisons in Ireland.
In 2019, an evaluation of peer mediation efforts in Castlerea found benefits to those who were trained in mediation and that the prison benefitted from the mediation service.
PIPS 2019 asks the IPS to make available ‘Specific training in restorative practice and how it applies on a day to day basis’, and notes that restorative justice can be used as a diversion from imprisonment.
The 2014 study found widespread support, including among sexual violence victims, for the use of RJ with sexual violence in Ireland.
‘We will establish an appropriate mechanism to create awareness and availability of restorative justice at all stages of the criminal justice system [and] ensure consistency of service and quality in training and practice’ (p.11).
The Oberstown Report discusses the ongoing training of staff in RP and the use of restorative principles in delivering personal development programmes for young people (pp. 22 & 47)
The RJS Strategic Plan for 2020-22 outlines plans to expand service provision, develop its practice and evaluate its work.
The RJS 2019 annual report shows that total annual referrals to RJS rose from 281, to 367 and 431 in 2017, 2018 and 2019, respectively.
In this Joint Action Plan, the partner agencies commit to ‘Develop joint arrangements – including in the area of victim-offender mediation – for providing victims of crime with opportunities for positive, restorative responses to the harm they have suffered.’
The proceedings from the annual conference restate the commitment of the diversion programme to a restorative philosophy and highlight the national rollout of RP training in all project in future years.
PIPS 2018 called on the Irish Prison Service to train all prison staff in restorative justice and collate and publish data on conflict resolution, mediation and restorative justice in Irish prisons.
The 2017 report illustrates the year-on-year drop in restorative cautions since 2014, but predicts that the number will rise again in the coming years.
The strategy incorporates restorative justice and practice under principles around partnerships and victims, and in objectives including diversion and early intervention.
The report notes that ‘there is a recognised value in [RP] as a means of addressing conflict and other challenges, in […] education, youth work and criminal justice. [This] would require dedicated resources to be taken forward and sustained.’ (p.56)
In ‘Citizen Engagement’, the innovation strategy asks public bodies to ‘Explore and test new ways of engaging with the public and others to consult on the design and delivery of proposed and existing services.’
The Le Chéile 2019 annual report outlines their range of mentoring services, including family support interventions and restorative justice with young people.
This 2019 report on responding to criminal networks in Dublin South Central recommends establishing a steering group and local training programmes to develop the use of restorative practices in the area.
The 2016 Activities Report by WRPP describes the development of the local partnership, reporting on its first conference and its planned activities.
Published in 2013, this ‘provides a framework for informed, effective and integrated Restorative Justice practice in the Probation Service’.
This 2007 conference proceedings from DIT has three chapters on Irish restorative justice, focusing on its use by JLOs, as a partnership in the community, and as a form of social control.