Restorative justice group approved
Restorative justice group approved

The British government has said that funding for a controversial republican neighbourhood justice scheme has been approved.

A British government spokesman said that it was satisfied with a report on Community Restorative Justice, Ireland (CRJ-I), and it would be fully accredited.

The group has previously sought #400,000, but was turned down because it did not openly support the PSNI police at the time.

Restorative justice groups are meant to combat anti-social activity and avoid punishment attacks by providing a legal, community-based alternative to traditional policing and justice systems.

Some unionist and nationalist groups have said the groups could be used to enforce Sinn Fein authority in republican areas, where there is still little support for the PSNI.

“Any decision to accredit and fund is a political one driven by the need of republicans at a time when the DUP clearly have their measure,” said the SDLP’s Alex Attwood.

British Direct Rule Minister Paul Goggins said the schemes had attained the standards required on how they should operate.

One of those standards is that schemes must “engage, and have a direct relationship, with police”.

“I am aware that historically there have been some concerns about the development of restorative justice schemes in both nationalist and loyalist communities,” he said.

“That is why we spent some considerable time developing a rigorous protocol to establish working relationships with statutory agencies.”

The justice minister said community-based restorative justice schemes helped resolve low-level crime in local communities.

“In particular we have underlined the pivotal role for the police and provided stringent safeguards to protect the rights of both victims and offenders,” he said.

A spokesman for Republican Sinn Fein said the announcement showed that “Provisional [IRA] policemen” were now acting “in full collaboration” with the PSNI (formerly RUC).

“CRJ have been granted funding for schemes in Belfast and Derry City due to their willingness to collaborate openly with the RUC and other agents of English rule in our country,” said spokesman Richard Walsh.

“Whilst Republicans have long been aware of these nefarious activities carried out by that organisation, CRJ are now anxious to admit to this publicly.

“These British-backed schemes have nothing to offer Nationalists and Republicans and should disband.”

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