Le Cheile Restorative Justice Conference Held in Limerick

Le Chéile Restorative Justice Project,
in conjunction with the Limerick Regeneration Agency and Young Persons
Probation, hosted Limerick’s very first Restorative Justice Event on Wednesday,
16 November 2011.  Over 60 participants
representing 23 agencies from the community, voluntary and statutory sectors
attended the event. This event was entitled ‘Restorative Justice –
Re-envisioning Justice’, which was held in The Factory, Youth Space in
Southill.  John Brosnahan Senior
Probation Officer with Young Person Probation stated “the enthusiasm and
commitment from the people attending this conference today is testament to the
significant work that has been undertaken to date in developing restorative
practice across Limerick City, these developments are being led by the young
person probation team as part if the over all remit of the children services
committee in tandem with Le Chéile Restorative Justice Project which is joint
funding by Irish Youth Justice Services and the Limerick Regeneration Agencies”

The event was held to coincide with
Restorative Justice International Week, which ran from 13 – 16 November 2011,
and aimed to create awareness and highlight the benefits of Restorative
Justice, by promoting local Limerick and Irish services using Restorative
Practice.  Presentations were given by
agencies including Le Chéile Restorative Justice Project, Support After Crime
Services, An Garda Síochána, the Department of Education and Young Person’s
Probation which highlighted the benefits of restorative practice.

Sean Kinahan CEO Le Chéile Youth
Justice and Family Support Services” The hard work and commitment that has gone
into developing the Restorative Justice project in Limerick really showed on
the day. It is a testament to Mary and Sarah in Limerick that so many people
engaged on the day and this really bodes well for the project into the future.
Restorative Justice makes sense from every angle whether it be from the
victims, the offenders, the community or from a value for money perspective.
The long term benefits of having an appropriate restorative justice response
make complete sense and I would like to thank the funders of the Restorative
Justice Project in Limerick. I hope to see the Le Chéile Restorative Justice
project develop further with the continued support of Probation and the
Limerick Regeneration agency.

Restorative
justice is an approach to
justice that focuses on the needs of victims, offenders, as well as the
involved community, providing a victim-sensitive and community-led response to
crime.  It gives victims a chance to
‘tell their story’, and help offenders understand the implications of their
behaviour.  Working with volunteers, the
young person develops a greater insight into the impact of their crime on the
lives of their victims, their own families and the community.

The event provided an opportunity for
agencies to network and participate in a number of workshops which looked at
re-visioning justice from the perspective of victim, offender and the
community.  The agencies that attended participated fully at each work
shop and identified how communities in Limerick can promote the practice and
support young offenders who are willing to take responsibility for their
actions and want to give back to the community. The support from the agencies
present was very positive at looking at how the young people who are on 
probation can be supported and also to empower communities and individuals who
have been affected by crime to have a voice and ‘tell their story’. The Victims
Perspective workshop which was facilitated by Sally Hanlon Director of Support
After Crime Services she stated that “on
hearing the victim’s voice on the day it afforded her an opportunity to share
her experience and receive acknowledgement from the community based groups
present.  If offered her an opportunity for closure in her
case.   Personally as a victim focused organisation I would like to
see restorative justice being made more available and taken up by victims of
crime to assist them in regaining there lives.  For this victim and her
family the circle was completed on the day.  As it was such an
emotive day the kind gesture of Munster Rugby presenting with match ticket
for her the victims son who had been badly affected by the crime was a lovely
touch for the victim”.  This benefits of
restorative justice were further reiterated by Juvenile Liaison Sergeant Seamus
O Neil who stated “ Restorative justice is hugely beneficial to all parties as
it was presented by JLO’s Jerry Scanlan and Pat Minehan who gave a good
representation of the use and benefits 
of Restorative Cautions being rolled out with youths in Limerick”

The Le Chéile Restorative Justice
Project is based in Southill in Limerick and is embarking on its second
year.  Le Chéile works with young people aged between 12-18 years who
are involved in the justice system.  The
Limerick project provides young person mentoring, parent mentoring, parenting
programmes and restorative justice services to Young Person’s Probation clients
and their families. Working with volunteers, it aims to provide a holistic
approach to support young people and families who are referred to the Probation
Services, providing a community-based response to youth offending.

Brendan Hayden Director Limerick
Regeneration Agency “Limerick Regeneration Agency has supported Le Cheile’s
Restorative Project for the past 2 years. This Project is about change, and
fits in with the aims and objectives of Limerick Regeneration Programme
2009-2018. The Project endeavours to cater for youths at risk of offending, and
offers alternative ways of dealing with these youths in order to keep them away
from a life of crime. The Project always tries to bring both offender and
victim together in an effort to reconcile differences, and in particular
highlight the hurt and fear that can be caused when a crime is committed. 
The recent seminar held by Le Chéile in the Southside Youth Space brought
together Agencies across Limerick who are interested in the progress of this
Limerick Project. It is a credit to the organisers that so many Agencies
expressed an interest in attending this event on the day, and this augurs well
for the future development of the Project nationwide.”

Mary Henihan Restorative Justice
Project Coordinator “ This was a great team effort for the southern le Chéile
staff team; which includes staff member from the Mentoring Projects and
Restorative Justice Projects  in Cork and
Limerick. The day was a big step forward in promoting the Restorative Justice
project in Limerick City and other services currently using restorative
practices. We have seen the benefits of using this approach with the Young
People and Families we work with. It really is the way forward in encouraging
empathy and creating dialogue between victim and offenders as well as within
the family setting.  It was great to have
such support on the day from all the community and youth projects present and having
Governor Fergus Woods from St. Patricks Institution here today was a huge bonus.
The over all feedback was very positive and this gives me great hope for
restorative justice development in Limerick and Nationally”

If you are interested in volunteering
for any of the Le Chéile Services please contact Mary Henihan on 087-0678336 or
by emailing maryh@lecheile.ie. For more information check out www.lecheile.ie

 

Also If you have been affected by crime or know
someone who requires the services of  
Support After Crime Services please contact Sally Hanlon on 021-4320555
or for further information check out. www.supportaftercrimeservices.ie

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