Written answers

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

Department of Justice and Equality

Departmental Programmes

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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442. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the progress to date in the implementation of the Justice Plan 2021 with particular reference to the relevant sections supporting a victim's journey and the availability of counselling; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [49443/21]

Photo of Hildegarde NaughtonHildegarde Naughton (Galway West, Fine Gael)
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As the Deputy may be aware, Supporting a Victim’s Journeyis our detailed and ambitious plan to implement the recommendations of the O'Malley Review.

It is introducing important reforms to support and protect vulnerable victims and ensure our criminal justice system is more victim-centred. To date, a number of key actions have been delivered as part of implementing Supporting a Victim’s Journeyincluding:

- Legislating for the introduction of preliminary trial hearings;

- The nationwide rollout of Divisional Protective Services Units (DPSU);

- The first cohort of staff at new sexual offences unit in the Director of Public Prosecutions office formally took up their roles in April;

- Work to advance the training for all personnel who come into contact with vulnerable victims is underway;

- Funding for NGOs providing court accompaniment and related information and support services has been increased;

- A review of grants for organisations supporting victims has been undertaken to identify gaps in service provision.

- An improved Victims Charter website which provides a comprehensive repository of information for victims has been created;

- The University of Limerick has been commissioned by my Department to develop the framework for the operation and training of intermediaries and they will soon be engaging with stakeholders to develop this.

In addition to the above, a review of the supports and funding of civil society organisations providing frontline services has been conducted to identify where gaps may exist and how to bridge them. Specific geographical areas and categories of victims that are not adequately covered by NGO supports have been identified and my Department is engaging with relevant NGO partners to agree revised funding to ensure that we meet the gaps identified. This piece of work will be completed shortly.

To promote more sustainable service delivery and planning, we are also offering multi-annual funding commitments to key NGOs we work with and where funding covers staff salaries. These funding grants cover accompaniment to court, to Garda interviews and to sexual assault treatment units and emotional support and counselling.

While the provision of counselling services is not directly under my remit and falls to Tusla and the Department of Health, I can confirm that both are represented on the O'Malley implementation group. All Departments and agencies on the implementation group are committed to delivering the recommendations as set out in Supporting a Victim's Journeyand to providing all relevant supports for victims of crime.

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