Le Cheile RJ Project’s 3rd Annual Conference puts Communities at the Heart of Justice.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013.  Le Cheile Restorative Justice project held it’s 3rd annual conference, entitled ‘Inspiring
Innovation.
’  The conference brought together members of
Limerick’s community, statutory and voluntary groups, committed to embedding
Restorative Practices in Limerick.

Keynote speakers included the Inspector of Prisons, Judge
Michael Reilly; Limerick Chief Superintendent David Sheehy; Senior Probation
officer for Limerick Young Person’s Probation, John Brosnahan and Ruairí Gogan,
Principal Officer with Irish Youth Justice Services in the Department of
Justice.  The conference was opened by Deputy Mayor of Limerick, Orla
McLoughlin McCarthy.

Le Chéile’s Southern manager, Mary Henihan, said,
“Restorative Justice is an innovative way of giving victims of crime a voice,
which often they don’t have in traditional models of justice.  When you
give offenders the opportunity to put things right, it can repair the harm in
their local community.  This conference showcases all the great work being
done in Limerick, and how it can be modelled in schools, in criminal justice
and the broader community.”

Judge Michael Reilly commented, “Antisocial behaviour –
could it be youthful exuberance or is it criminality – probably a lot of the
former but can be the latter if not checked.  Enter Restorative
initiatives such as Le Chéile.  I know from my experience that this is the
way to go.”

Senior Probation officer, John Brosnahan, said, “I think
it’s fitting that the theme of this conference is Inspiring Innovation. We
should be celebrating innovation because we’re leading the way in Limerick, not
only in Restorative Justice interventions, but in the wider world of
restorative practice.  We’re bringing it to schools, community agencies,
we’re bringing it to youth workers and the Gardaí – and that’s all very necessary. 
[RJ] Projects of this kind are  truly unique and the value of this is that
people can actually be honest with each other about what’s going on, and that’s
what makes a difference – it’s real. It’s real for the young person, it’s real
for their family, and it’s real for the victim.”

Ruairí Gogan, with the Irish Youth Justice Service, said
“From an early intervention, It needs to be restorative at every level, from
school to family to community. Le Chéile is a key play in rolling out
Restorative Justice in the community.”

Sean Kinahan, CEO of Le Chéile, said, “The Restorative
Justice  Project plays a pivotal role in Limerick youth justice. We’ve
embedded Restorative Practice in our national mentoring projects, with all our
local volunteers now trained to mentor restoratively.”

The conference saw the launch of the ‘Restorative Heart’ a
wooden sculpture that all delegates contributed to, which will travel around
the city and take pride of place in communities, schools and projects across
the City in 2013/2014. 

The conference held workshops on diverse topics such
as  Restorative Practices in Communities, Working with Persistent
Offenders, and Restorative Communities.  The conference takes place during
‘Restorative Justice Week,’ which includes a host of events being held around
the country.

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