The so-called “Greentown” project is an important strategic research initiative supported by my Department and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs in tackling criminal networks. The research project is led by the REPPP Project (Research Evidence into Policy, Programmes and Practice) at the School of Law in the University of Limerick (UL). Its specific focus is on examining the recruitment by criminal networks of children in Ireland and to make recommendations for interventions to disrupt this.
In the absence of international models of intervention that could be readily deployed, the original Greentown report published in December 2016 recommended the design of a programme to include interventions with children and their families to help them withstand the influence of criminal networks. This new “Greentown Programme” has now been designed with the input of leading international expertise on crime and criminal networks, together with Irish scientific, policy and practice expertise in child protection and welfare, drugs and community development.
I understand that it is intended to commence a trial of the Greentown Programme approach, on a pilot basis, during 2019. No final decision has been taken as to the location of these sites, and I can assure the Deputy that all sites that present a real need for this type of intervention will be considered.
The Deputy will appreciate the need to keep these sites anonymous, to prevent the identification of young people and stigmatisation of the communities involved. Accordingly, the locations of any trial sites will not be publicly announced.