· Minister’s discussions focus on victim support and protection
· Work Programme agreed for the coming year on North-South co-operation across the range of criminal justice matters
· Minister Fitzgerald says “The continued improvement of North-South co-operation in policing and criminal justice remains a priority”
Friday 27 June 2014
Minister Frances Fitzgerald, T.D. and the Northern Ireland Minister of Justice, David Ford, MLA, met in Dublin today. This was their first meeting since Minister Fitzgerald's appointment as Minister for Justice and Equality.
The Ministers met to discuss ongoing North-South co-operation under the Intergovernmental Agreement on Co-operation on Criminal Justice Matters.
Minister Fitzgerald expressed her support for the close working relationship between all aspects of the criminal justice systems North and South: “The continued improvement of North-South co-operation in policing and criminal justice remains a priority. There is a high degree of productive co-operation at all levels between our criminal justice systems. We face the same challenges in both parts of the island in combating crime, managing offenders and supporting victims, and it makes sense for us to co-operate in coming up with solutions to deal with them. I look forward to continuing this positive working relationship as we seek to make the island of Ireland safer for all communities”.
Minister Ford said ” Delivering safer communities for all people is a goal that is shared both North and South. I therefore welcome the extremely positive working relationship that exists at a strategic, policy and operational level between our two jurisdictions. We have witnessed in recent years this co-operation through a number of practical steps including joint protocols, shared learning and training, and the proactive exchange of information and best practice approaches between justice bodies across the island of Ireland. I am committed to ensuring that the high-level of cross-border co-operation between the various criminal justice agencies remains in place.”
Among the topics discussed by the Ministers were the work underway North and South to implement the provisions of the EU Victims Directive which will come into force in 2015. Minister Fitzgerald emphasised the importance of improving services and support for victims across the island and noted that “Supporting and protecting the victims of crime is a central function of any criminal justice system. The implementation of the Victims Directive’s provisions will be a major step in strengthening the rights of victims and will enhance their position in the criminal justice system.”
Minister Ford added ”This is a good example of where co-operation between jurisdictions has made a positive and practical difference. Through the work of the Victims Project Advisory Group, and our links to the Ministry of Justice, we were able to maximise our collective influence on the content of the Directive and the Commission’s implementation guidelines. We will continue to work closely together as we implement the Directive, which we are due to transpose by November 2015.”
The Ministers also reviewed the range of ongoing cross-Border initiatives in the areas of Youth Justice, Probation, Forensic Science, Registered Offenders and Criminal Justice and Social Diversity, and they established a Programme to take forward work in these areas for the coming year.
Note to Editors:
1. The Intergovernmental Agreement on Co-operation on Criminal Justice Matters provides a framework for increasing and enhancing co-operation on criminal justice matters. Within the framework of the Agreement, the two Ministers oversee co-operation across the range of areas in the criminal justice field.
2. The development and enhancement of co-operation under the Agreement is taken forward by a number of Project Advisory Groups covering the areas of public protection, forensic science, youth justice, victims’ issues, managing registered offenders and criminal justice and social diversity issues.