I had asked previously, “Whatever happened to..” [community restorative justice]. Well, coincidentally, the first ten minutes of Radio 4’s Law in Action programme today dealt with “Justice Belfast style”. The audio [RealPlayer file] is accompanied by an online article specifically about the Belfast report. There’s no mention of funding in either report, nor of the “volunteers patrolling” west Belfast, but the case used as an example of the work they do is worth noting. With no statement being made to the police, about an attempted extortion of £10,000 by armed men describing themselves as being from “the republican movement”, the response of the Restorative Justice group took this form – Firstly Jim McCarthy, “one of the leading lights of CRJ”, assures the victim that “mainstream republicans” were not involved and, he tells the reporter,
“Different well-known people in the community will visit Margaret and Barry’s house today and tomorrow. They’ll be seen going in and out of the house. Just showing community support.”
Or, as the online report puts it
Margaret left CRJ’s Twinbrook office that morning feeling safer. Jim McCarthy had arranged for a number of well-known Republicans to drop in on her family at home. They hoped these public visits would scare away the extortionists.