Sinn Féin spokesperson on Justice, Pa Daly TD, has welcomed the government’s recommitment to restorative justice initiatives, but cautioned that gaps remain.
Teachta Daly said:
“Restorative Justice is a term given to a broad number of processes, that in general gives people who have been harmed the chance to discuss the impact of the incident and seek answers about why it happened with the perpetrator. This can occur through face-to-face meetings, via video, or through letters. It can occur in addition to as a complement to or as a substitute for traditional punishments.
“Restorative justice has huge potential in easing the burden on our courts and the wider justice system, and enjoys extremely high levels of satisfaction from victims who engage in the process. In recent years however the use of the restorative caution for youths decreased.
“The government’s new policy paper will go some way to reassuring people they are not abandoning restorative justice as a solution.
“Consent of the victim is crucial to making restorative justice work, as is proper provision of services. The policy paper acknowledges gaps exist, especially in the North West of the country, and seeks to address those.
“More can be done in raising awareness and in making provision across the entire country. We also need a firm legislative basis to explain when and how restorative justice should be used.
“Judges should be aware of restorative justice as an option and in some cases be compelled by legislation to offer it. The expansion of the current youth restorative caution to adults needs to be examined also.
“I intend to address this through bringing forward a Private Member’s Bill. I would call on the government to examine the proposals therein and Sinn Féin remain open to working with the government to make greater strides in restorative justice.”