Developing Community Courts with Restorative Justice in Ireland
In 2007 the Irish National Crime Council recommended that community courts should be established in Ireland, located in the inner city of Dublin, to deal with quality-of-life offences. In 2009 the final report of the National Commission on Restorative Justice recommended that restorative justice be legislated for, and introduced nationally in the criminal justice system in Ireland, by no later than 2015. Now, in 2019, we are still awaiting the introduction of community courts and the national rollout of restorative justice. Some progress, however, has been made in both areas. In 2014 the Minister for Justice announced that a pilot scheme would be established in Dublin, through which a community court would be established. Close monitoring and evaluation would determine whether community courts should then be rolled out on a national level. Several restorative justice schemes around the country have been expanded since the publication of the final report of the National Commission on Restorative Justice (2009), and a small but dedicated restorative justice movement is developing in Ireland. This paper argues that the rollout of restorative justice should coincide with the development and rollout of community courts in Ireland, and that community courts should contain an element of restorative justice. It also argues that the recent expansion of restorative justice schemes should be allowed to continue independently of the development of community courts in order to help facilitate a national rollout of restorative justice in the Irish criminal justice system.