Community Restorative Justice in Northern Ireland

Published 11/06/2003
Type Article
Author(s) Eamonn Keenan
Corresponding Authors Eamonn Keenan, De Montfort University

The Northern Ireland Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders (NIACRO) is a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) that has developed a range of responses to address crime and its impact on individuals and communities such as crime prevention initiatives, work with offenders and their families and the reintegration of offenders back into the community. During the last five years the association has supported the development of Community Restorative Justice (CRJ) approaches with local community groups as a core strategy.

This article will attempt to describe NIACRO’s work on restorative justice as an activity within the context of a transitional political situation moving towards a post conflict society. The paper discusses:

• the historical background of restorative justice in the political and economic context of Northern Ireland;
• programme evolution and the development of local systems and structures;
• the role of training, community capacity building and community empowerment;
• the range of responses adopted and their impact to date;
• the contribution the programme has made to peace building in a community coming out of a long period of conflict;
• perspectives on the issues raised by attempting to adopt a non-violent approach to anti-social behaviour in a society moving towards a post conflict situation;
• commentary on the working models identified by the agency;
• the promotion of good practice;
• the experience of dissemination of practice;
• links to human rights organisations.