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Ó Snodaigh welcomes Community Restorative Justice proposals but questions other parties’ commitments

4 January, 2007


Sinn Féin Justice spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has welcomed the report of the Oireachtas Justice Committee which advocates greater use of Community Restorative Justice (CRJ). However, Deputy Ó Snodaigh seriously questioned the commitment of Jim O'Keefe and other committee members who backed the introduction of ASBOs which by their very nature fly in the face of everything that CRJ is about.

Speaking today Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "I welcome the Report of the Oireachtas Justice Committee which advocates greater use of Community Restorative Justice. Sinn Féin has been advocating the benefits of this approach for many years and we have been criticised by many including Fine Gael for doing so. We have pointed to CRJ models in this state and in the six counties as evidence of its positive impacts in terms of reduced rates of re-offending and cost-effectiveness in the administration of justice.

"We have also used our membership of Joint Policing Committees across the state to advocate the extension of CRJ programmes and I have also argued regularly in the Oireachtas Justice Committee for the last few years. Unfortunately my arguments have fallen on deaf ears until now it seems.

"However, I would seriously question the commitment of Jim O'Keefe and the other committee members to the principles of CRJ. By its nature CRJ prioritises reparation over punishment and it involves an approach to justice which holds custody genuinely as a redress of last resort. Hypocritically, last year both Jim O'Keefe and others on the committee including Labour backed the introduction of ASBOs against my advice and against that of a range of reputable NGOs. ASBOs are simply a means to fast track people into prison, particularly children and young people. They involve prison sentences for behaviour that in and of itself is not even criminal. Almost all members of the Justice Committee including FG and Labour backed the introduction of ASBOs which fly in the face of everything that CRJ is about and which they are now also backing." ENDS

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