I welcome the publication of the 'Ballymun - a Brighter Future' report, written by Mr. Andrew Montague. I note the Deputy's interest in this report, and I understand the report was commissioned by Dublin City Council following a request by the Deputy when he was the Lord Mayor at the time.
The Deputy will be aware that the Council asked for practical and achievable recommendations regarding a number of significant concerns about drugs and criminality raised by the local community and local agencies in recent years.
As the Deputy will already be aware, the Department of Health leads on Government policy in the area of drugs, and this policy is guided by the national drugs and alcohol strategy, "Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery - a health-led response to drug and alcohol use in Ireland 2017-2025". This strategy represents a whole-of-Government response to drug and alcohol use in Ireland. The implementation of the strategy is led by my colleague, the Minister for Health, however, the strategy includes actions for all stakeholders, including my Department and An Garda Síochána.
As the Deputy will be aware, many of the themes and issues outlined in the ‘Ballymun - a Brighter Future’ report are reflected in the objectives of the Youth Justice Strategy 2021-2027, which I published with Minister McEntee in April 2021. These include:
- the principle of diversion of young people away from anti-social and criminal behaviour;
- developing supports centred on the need of the child/young person, which take account of issues such as trauma;
- supporting young people in education and considering alternative approaches where appropriate;
- employing innovative approaches to help break cycles of offending, including:
i multi-systemic therapy which is used in the Bail Supervision Scheme, currently expanding from its initial pilot area in Dublin to Cork and Limerick; and
ii a specialised approach to combat coercive control by criminal groups of young people – the Greentown programme which is currently being piloted in two locations provides an evidence-based intervention programme designed with the assistance of Irish and international experts.
Both the Bail Supervision Scheme and the Greentown approach have been recognised internationally as cutting edge approaches to addressing problematic youth offending.
A key priority in the Youth Justice Strategy is the further expansion and intensification of supports provided by Youth Diversion Projects (YDPs), of which there are 105 nationwide. As the Deputy will be aware, Crosscare’s Ballymun Youth Block (BYB) is a well-established YDP in the Ballymun area.
Budget 2022 includes significant additional funding to support initiatives under the Youth Justice Strategy - almost €6.7 million, representing an increase of one third in support for youth justice services. This funding provides the resources to kick-start delivery of key objectives in the Youth Justice Strategy and, in particular, the programme to expand and deepen the range of supports made available through local YDP services.