The Launch of Le Cheile Restorative Justice Project

Le Chéile RJ

Pictured above: Prof. Ursula Kilkelly (Chair  of UCC’s Child Law Clinic), Mary Henihan (Le Chéile) Vivian Guerin (Director of the Probation Service) Anne Conroy (CEO of Le Chéile) Cllr. Kevin Sheehan (Mayor of Limerick City and County Council) John Brosnahan (Senior Probation Officer) Ursula Fernee (Head of Young Persons Probation)  & Ruairi Gogan (Irish Youth Justice Service).

Le Chéile RJ

Picture: Prof. Ursula Kilkelly (Chair of UCC’s Child Law Clinic), Leanne Kealy (Le Chéile Project Worker) Sarah Treacey (Le Chéile Volunteer) Sinead Galvin and Luke Conlan (An Garda Síochána)

Le Cheile Restorative Justice Project launched the Evaluation Report and Seminar of the project on Wednesday, 28 January, 2014. It was held at the Exhibition Hall, Limerick City Council, Limerick. The Director of the Probation Service, Vivian Gieran launched the Evaluation Report of the Le Chéile Restorative Justice Project.

Gieran was joined by the Dean of UCC Law and Director of UCC’s Child Law Clinic Professor Ursula Kilkenny, who commented on the findings of the report. Also in attendance was Mayor of Limerick City and County Council, Cllr. Kevin Sheehan    

The study found significant benefits not only for young people but also for the families and the victims of crime.  Young people displayed a significant increase in their levels of empathy towards victims after engaging with the project, as well as reporting better family relationships and less contact with the Gardaí and court system. Parents reported positive outcomes for family life and improved relationships.

This is a landmark piece of research in relation to applying Restorative Justice Approaches to youth offending in the Republic of Ireland.  

Also at the seminar Le Chéile’s ‘Restorative Heart,’ was presented to Limerick City Council. The heart had travelled around Limerick city and was hosted by a number of projects in the community, voluntary and statutory sectors.

Le Chéile’s Restorative Justice Project is Ireland’s first and only non-statutory youth restorative justice service. It has shown that it returns nearly €3 for every €1 invested. This project provides a range of restorative justice services to young people who have been involved in crime and are engaged with the Probation Service. 

Victims of crime found that restorative justice (RJ) was a far better experience than the traditional criminal justice system.   They stated that in participating with the RJ Project they had a meaningful voice and found it to be a more respectful and inclusive approach that the traditional court process.

 CEO of Le Chéile, Anne Conroy said:

 “The study shows that Restorative Justice should be a preferred option for young people who offend.  We’ve now have the evidence that it repairs the harm done to the victim, the community and the family. The future is bright for Restorative Justice in Ireland and Le Chéile is proud to be a lead agency in demonstrating and practicing Restorative Justice in the Youth Sector.”

The study was carried out by Quality Matters who commented that:

“The project displayed value for money.  It was found that for every euro invested in the project over €2.80 of value was generated.  Much of this value was due to the reduction in criminal behaviour which resulted from young people engaging in the project.”

The project, established in 2010, works with young people on probation using a range of RJ models including face-to-face meetings, proxy victims, victim empathy programmes, and reparation.  The RJ project is part of Le Chéile Mentoring & Youth Justice Support Services, which provides volunteer mentoring as well as RJ, and family support services to young people who offend.

 The report and more information on Le Chéile can be found at their site here

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If you would like to read more on the Youth of Limerick you can Check it out here

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