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Home > Seanad Eireann debate. Community Courts: motion.

[Oireachtas] Seanad Eireann debate. Community Courts: motion. (25 Feb 2014)

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Acting Chairman (Senator Diarmuid Wilson): I welcome the Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Deputy Joe Costello. 

Senator Martin Conway:  I move:

That Seanad Éireann
- recognises that a community court could effectively deal with low-level offences, focusing primarily on criminal anti-social behaviour by responding to the underlying problems of offenders;
- recognises that a community court may further develop a collaborative working approach among service providers and apply a problem solving approach in respect of each defendant in a timely fashion;
- commends the work of the National Crime Council and notes the publication in 2007 of its report on the case for community courts in Ireland;
- notes the experience and positive outcomes associated with the use of community courts internationally and requests that the potential of such courts in the Irish context be further examined; and
calls on the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence to consider the issue of community courts in Ireland and to establish a community court in Dublin city centre as a pilot project to provide for a problem solving approach to addressing criminal anti-social behaviour and to offer further alternatives to imprisonment for such offenders.
It is a real privilege to move a motion on the issue of community courts. For many years Members have heard a debate, discourse and discussion on the prison system, its overcrowded state and the need to consider a new way to do business. For too long they have heard of custodial sentences being imposed on those who really should be engaging in a different form of punishment. In this context, even "punishment" is the wrong word and I would consider it to be better described as engagement with the State at a different level. I welcome the Minister of State, Deputy Joe Costello. He represents a city constituency and while Members obviously would have wished for the presence in the House of the line Minister with responsibility in this area, namely, the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Alan Shatter, his views in this regard are known to all Members.

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