Fine Gael Seanad Spokesperson on Justice and Clare Senator, Martin Conway, has said that the roll out of community courts across the country could revolutionise our justice system and would provide a local solution to local problems. Senator Conway’s comments coincide with a Private Members’ Motion on the subject tabled by him in the Seanad today.
“I will be using the time during my Private Members’ Motion in the Seanad to call on Minister Shatter to establish a community court in Dublin as a pilot project, with the hope that if successful, the model could be rolled out on a regional basis.
“I am convinced that we need to change how we deal with low-level crime at a local level. By placing the court at the heart of the community and approaching problems in their local context, community courts can offer a pragmatic approach that deals effectively with low level crime.
“We need greater community engagement in the criminal justice process that results in prompt decision-making. Community courts offer flexible sentencing options and operate a system whereby compliance with court mandated treatment/counselling programs is incentivised.
“The approach has achieved significant success in other jurisdictions, such as in the US, Canada and Australia, with some 40 such courts in the US alone. The system has been credited with reducing the once infamous levels of crime in New York, especially in Manhattan.
“I will be urging the Minister to build on my motion and to revolutionise our local justice system though the introduction of pilot community court projects in towns and cities throughout the country.”