Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Thursday, 18 October 2012
Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement
Restorative Justice Programmes in Northern Ireland: Discussion
I thank Mr. Maguire and Ms Watters who are both welcome.
I note this has been a highly eventful week. Last Friday saw the first meeting of the North-South Inter-Parliamentary Association in Leinster House, at which MLAs, Deputies and Senators from all sides met here for the first time since the foundation of the State. Last Monday I attended a dinner in City Hall with the DUP Lord Mayor on one side and a UUP councillor on another, with many others. This would not have happened were it not for the good work done both politically and by the delegates on the ground. While we come from different communities in many ways, we must recognise the work being done and how far people have come in recent years. I wish to highlight one or two issues.
The delegates must face huge problems with a lot of young people and communities who want to go back to the past, as in certain communities violence was glamorised and those engaged in it were perceived to be held in high esteem. Is this still a huge issue and how do the delegates address it? Second, the joint committee has been highly active in visiting many areas. In so doing I have noticed the great number of groups such as those of the delegates which are doing excellent work and sprang from a need. However, is accreditation or streamlining among such groups now required? Third, funding is always an issue. For example, I am trying to secure funding for a family resource centre which is doing a huge amount of work in providing counselling. Effectively, it is taking up the slack from the HSE or the health board. It is not a question of the latter not having the resources, but it does not respond in the same way. It is almost impossible to secure a minimal amount of funding for the group in question because the structures are not in place. This obviously presents a huge challenge. We need more of it. I congratulate and thank the delegates for the work that has been done.