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Ó Snodaigh launches Sinn Féin proposals for 'Creating Safer Communities'

16 October, 2007

Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD, speaking at the launch of his party's proposals for 'Creating Safer Communities', has said statutory agencies, local councils, the Gardaí and the communities themselves including private landlords each have a role to play in creating safe communities.

In the document Sinn Féin makes significant proposals for good Estate Management in partnership with communities including community restorative justice programmes, mediation schemes and the establishment of 'Good Community Agreements'.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "All too often the daily plight of communities living in the midst of persistent drug dealing and anti-social behaviour can get lost in the sensational media stories of gangland shootings and major drugs hauls.

"Two months ago we published our proposals for Garda resourcing and deployment in order to effectively police crime. Today we are launching a complimentary set of proposals to create safer communities this time through better estate management in partnership with communities.

"Our primary focus is on prevention through intervention at the earliest opportunity where a risk of engagement in criminal or anti-social behaviour is identified.

"We also strongly promote the 'community restorative justice' approach which requires an emphasis on mediation, restitution and reparations. All of this must compliment robust law enforcement with criminal sanction for criminal behaviour.

"In our view statutory agencies, local Councils, the Gardaí and communities themselves including private landlords each have a role to play in creating safe communities. And they should work in equal partnership to achieve this goal.

"This principle of full partnership underpins one of the key proposals in the document - Good Community Agreements. The idea is to enhance community input, participation and ownership of strategies to prevent and tackle criminal and anti-social behaviour in their local areas.

"Local authorities and local Gardaí, in conjunction with tenants' committees or residents' associations and other community stakeholders, would host public meetings on an estate-by-estate, development-by-development, or even street-by-street basis. At these meetings all residents and private landlords are invited to discuss general issues around community safety, culminating in the drawing up of a collective Good Community Agreement.

"What's different about our proposal is that it ties in residents of all tenures and private landlords. It also involves Gardaí making commitments to their community and these might involve, for example, committing to higher visibility policing in problem areas at problem times." ENDS

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