Victims of crimes receive ‘healing’ after meeting offenders

Anne Sheridan

Reporter:

Anne Sheridan

A RESTORATIVE justice programme is bringing “healing” to people affected by crime in Limerick’s regeneration areas, by bringing together young offenders and victims of crime.

A RESTORATIVE justice programme is bringing “healing” to people affected by crime in Limerick’s regeneration areas, by bringing together young offenders and victims of crime.

Le Chéile’s restorative justice project in Limerick city is now entering its third year, having started off as a pilot project for the whole country.

Mary Henihan, Le Chéile southern regional manager, said the project has come a long way since it was set up in 2010. “It is a voluntary project that encourages young people to become responsible for their actions, and for people who are looking for an opportunity to put things right. The response rate from all sides of the community has been quite high, and it has proven to be a win-win situation for everybody. A lot of parents have said to us ‘Why hasn’t this been done before?’” She explained that while restorative justice programmes are run in Tallaght and Nenagh these programmes are for adults; the Limerick programme aims to curb criminal activity at a young age.

The young people are referred from the probation services in the city, and have predominantly committed offences such as public order, car robberies and burglary. “One of the victims of these crimes has said to us that they can now sleep properly for the first time without worrying. It does bring a great sense of healing,” she said.

Sean Kinahan, chief executive of Le Cheile, said the various elements of the programme “are now embedded in a number of areas”, with organisations using them in their everyday work to ensure better outcomes for all involved.

“This is a crucial time in the continued roll out of restorative justice. It’s also a truly exciting time as Limerick now has an amazing opportunity to demonstrate a standardised way of working restoratively that can provide clear outcomes for all involved and be a leading light for the rest of the country to develop similar responses.” Le Cheile recently held its second annual restorative justice conference, in the Youth Space Factory, Southill, to address the different needs of the community.