MORE victims of crime in Limerick should share their experiences to help get over the trauma of the crimes committed against them, according to a local group.
Limerick’s very first restorative justice event was held recently in Southill, with over 60 participants attending from 23 agencies representing the community, voluntary and statutory sectors.
Brendan Hayden, director of the Limerick Regeneration Agency, which supports the project, said it “offers alternative ways of dealing with these youths in order to keep them away from a life of crime.
Mr Hayden said the programme “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.”
“This project is about change, and fits in with the aims and objectives of Limerick Regeneration Programme 2009-2018,” he added.
Sean Kinahan, chief executive of Le Chéile Youth Justice and Family Support Services, said a lot of hard work and commitment has gone into developing the restorative justice project in Limerick.
“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,” said Mr Kinahan.
“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,” he continued.
The victims perspective workshop was facilitated by Sally Hanlon, director of Support After Crime Services.
She said these sessions offer victims an opportunity for closure in their case.
“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,” she said.
Juvenile liaison Sergeant Seamus O’Neil added: “Restorative justice is hugely beneficial to all parties.”
Based in Southill, the Le Chéile restorative justice project is now embarking on its second year.
The group works with young people aged between 12-18 years who are involved in the justice system.
*A longer version of this story appeared in the Limerick Leader Monday tabloid edition dated December 12, 2011.