The Minister of State for Law Reform, James Browne TD, has today opened the annual Garda Youth Diversion Project (GYDP) conference. This year’s virtual, 2-day event is the first in two years following the cancellation of the 2020 conference with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Attendees at this year’s conference include youth project workers, community Gardaí, representatives from non-governmental organisations, academics and officials from the Department of Justice. The event is particularly timely, following the recent publication of the new Youth Justice Strategy 2021-2027.
Minister Browne said: “Youth crime and anti-social behaviour have a detrimental impact on our communities and there are significant challenges for An Garda Síochána and other agencies and service providers in responding to these concerns. I welcome this conference in bringing everyone together to share experiences at community level and to learn about the considerable and ever-expanding research available to inform and guide this essential work.
The core principle of the new Youth Justice Strategy, launched by Minister McEntee and I earlier this month, is to maximise the opportunities available to young people to choose a different path towards a more constructive and fulfilling life. The Strategy will make a valuable contribution to the youth justice sector, by providing a robust framework to address ongoing priorities in tandem with emerging issues.
The return of the conference after an unexpected 2-year gap provides an important opportunity to discuss next steps towards ensuring a brighter future for our young people by supporting and driving measures to divert them away from crime and offer them real and positive alternatives.”
The new Youth Justice Strategy will have a significant impact on Garda Youth Diversion Projects (GYDPs), enhancing and strengthening the role of GYDPs and extending the service to those areas yet to be covered by the projects.
The conference comprises a selection of presentations by experts in the youth justice sector and a number of thematic breakout sessions for conference participants. The conference also showcases youth project work.
Guest speakers include Dr Sean Redmond (University of Limerick / Research into Policy Programme), Chief Superintendent Colette Quinn (with responsibility for the Garda Síochána Youth Diversion Programme), Dr Ian Marder (NUI Maynooth) and Dr Sharon Lambert (University College Cork).
Minister Browne thanked all present at the conference for their ongoing commitment to the safety and wellbeing of young people across the country:
“Thank you for responding to the unique challenges presented by Covid-19 over the past year and for making such a concerted effort to ensure you continue to support our young people and their families.“