30/10/2008

Threats Against Restorative Justice Workers Condemned

Three restorative justice workers in west Belfast have been warned of threats against their lives.

Dissident republicans are said to have issued the death threats because of the organisation's co-operation with police.

Community Restorative Justice Ireland Director (CRJI) Jim Auld was informed of the threats through a local media group.

Mr Auld said he believes his colleagues have been targeted because of their association with the PSNI.

He told the BBC: "Everybody in this community has been up in arms about the level of crime and criminal activity that is occurring within it.

"And yet these people who are saying that they are protectors of the people are threatening us."

Police have been made aware of the threats.

In the last year, CRJI has worked on 1,500 cases across the province.

Mr Auld called on the threats to be withdrawn.

"We have supported the victims of crime to deal with their issues in a variety of ways,

"All we want now is to get on with the work that staff and practitioners have been doing to great effect," he added.
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Meanwhile, the Sinn Féin MLA for West Belfast, Paul Maskey, has called for an end to the threats.

Mr Maskey has stated that those behind the threats are out of touch with the local community. "This is a vital service and one that the community use on a daily basis with over 1,500 cases being dealt with last year.

"This only goes to show the strong support from the community for the work that is being carried out by the organisation," he commented.

"CRJ works in very difficult circumstances towards making our communities a safer place to live. To be threatened like this is unacceptable.

"It is also a service that, following repeated attempts to cut back restorative justice projects from many quarters, has endured and gotten stronger undertaking an incomparable job in helping local communities.

"Now we see so-called dissidents joining in to attack CRJ with threats against its workers," he said.

"These threats must be lifted immediately. Those behind them should listen to the demands and needs of the local community that these so-called dissidents say they are representing.

"It is clear they are very out of touch," he concluded.

(PR/JM)

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