Mayor urges new approach to young offenders

Mike Dwane

Reporter:

Mike Dwane

Mayor of Limerick, Cllr Gerry McLoughlin [Picture: Sean Curtin]
MAYOR Gerry McLoughlin has appealed to fellow councillors to be “more imaginative” in how they address juvenile crime and anti-social behaviour.

MAYOR Gerry McLoughlin has appealed to fellow councillors to be “more imaginative” in how they address juvenile crime and anti-social behaviour.

He was speaking at the monthly meeting of Limerick City Council after members condemned young people involved in graffiti vandalism and keeping horses illegally.

Mayor McLoughlin agreed that these were “two problems that are setting the city back and it’s mostly young people doing it”.

“But if there is a problem we have to be more visionary and more imaginative in how we deal with it – and that takes effort. I would hope that this amalgamation (of Limerick City and County Councils) will be more than just putting two different sets of people together but coming up with ideas to make our young people more engaged and more respectful,” the mayor said.

He proposed sending a delegation from Limerick to Hull to examine how the restorative justice model worked in the English city.

Restorative justice is a way of getting young offenders to engage with their victims in a supervised setting, involving police and probation services. It can often mean the offender will engage in efforts to do right by the victim.

“It costs €1500 a week to keep somebody in jail and they will if anything learn more in jail about how not to engage with society,” Mayor McLoughlin said.

Cllr Tom Shortt pointed out that Sgt Seamus O’Neill had been due to give a presentation on restorative justice before the city’s joint policing committee. But in a comment directed towards committee chairman Cllr Michael Hourigan, Cllr Shortt said the item “seems to have disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle of items up for discussion on that committee”.

Cllr Hourigan objected that both himself and director of service Pat Dowling had “clarified that matter on a number of occasions” for Cllr Shortt.

There had been changes in personnel on the committee and “yet he refuses to accept any of those clarifications”.