Justice Minister may extend Kerry Empowering Youth Service plan

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald is considering replicating a groundbreaking youth diversion programme following a successful pilot to other parts of the country.

She was speaking at the formal launch yesterday of the Kerry Empowering Youth Service, which is the first divisional model in the country. Discussions are being held with Garda management and community organisations to extend the scheme in Cork city.

Garda youth diversion programmes, which divert offenders aged 12 to 18 from the criminal courts, operate on a local level across the country and have strict catchment areas.

Kerry Empowering Youth is to run along the Kerry Garda Division as a whole, bringing in the six current youth diversion projects and expanding into areas not covered. It is run with Kerry Diocesan Youth Service.

It follows a two-year pilot programme, during which an extra 101 young people were brought into the scheme, who could not have benefited before.

Mrs Fitzgerald said the service was the first of its kind in the country and added: “Its a very good model from Kerry that we think can be replicated.”

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