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By Sarah Stafford A father of a teenage girl has recently expressed outrage that the man convicted of sexually assaulting his daughter and previously convicted of rape, was released from prison without his family being informed. But what measures can be implemented to inform and safeguard victims where offenders are either given custodial or probation supervised sentences? I spoke to Gillian Montgomery, Assistant Director and Victims Lead at the Probation Board for Northern Ireland (PBNI), about the benefits and limitations of victim information schemes. “I don’t know the specifics of this case,” Gillian said, “But if victims are not registered…

Northern Ireland man Michael Irwin, who served six years of a 12-year prison sentence for cocaine importation, argues that he has served his sentence to society but poses the question will society ever forgive and forget his criminal conviction? By Michael Irwin My conjured image is not one of a tattily shrouded, crouched and hooded leper hobbling along misty cobbled streets toting his bell but more Peter Sellers’ ludicrous Quasimodo disguise in the 1976 film The Pink Panther Strikes Again and the scene where the hump inflates and the ever unfortunate Clouseau floats over the rooftops of Paris lamenting ‘ahh,…

Deputy VIEWdigital editor Kathryn Johnston talks to Samaritans volunteer Brendan Magee, above, about the charity’s Listeners service in jails for prisoners. Brendan Magee, Prison Support Officer for the Samaritans in Coleraine, has been visiting Magilligan, a Category C prison on the North Coast, for years. Brendan said: “Samaritan volunteers from our branch used to go to the prison, where we did wing walks – going down the wings to speak to the prisoners. “This soon evolved into the idea that we could build on the work started in England and Wales, and very soon the Coleraine branch of the Samaritans…

We were delighted that Sid McDowell, chair of NIACRO, agreed to be the guest editor of the 50th issue of VIEW which examined Crime and Justice issues in Northern Ireland and further afield. By Sid McDowell, guest editor, 50th issue of VIEW Reading through previous editions of VIEW, I am struck by the increasing importance of partnerships for the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sectors. Partnerships amongst themselves and partnerships with local and central government. It seems that, in this vindictive age of austerity, and in the face of the pressures associated with competitiveness and the requirement to demonstrate…

Above: Professor Phil Scraton Professor Phil Scraton, left, from the School of Law, Queen’s University, Belfast, answers questions from VIEW editor Brian Pelan about his views on prison reform in Northern Ireland Question: What should the balance be between retribution, rehabilitation and protection of the public when it comes to the purpose of prisons? Answer: These are very different objectives reflecting very different interpretations of what constitutes ‘crime’ and who we define as ‘criminals’. While it is self-evident that a crime is committed when a law is breached – something we all do – what we are focusing on is…

https://issuu.com/brianpelanone/docs/view_50_issue By VIEW editor Brian Pelan Angela Davis, the US political activist and academic, said in her book Are Prisons Obsolete: “On the whole, people tend to take prisons for granted. It is difficult to imagine life without them. At the same time, there is reluctance to face the realities hidden within them, a fear of thinking about what happens inside them. Thus, the prison is present in our lives and, at the same time, it is absent from our lives……The most difficult and urgent challenge today is that of creatively exploring new terrains of justice, where the prison no longer…

Does your charity/community/voluntary/social enterprise organisation need a short film made to gets its message across or to provide information about the services it offers to your membership or the wider public? VIEWdigital offers a professional video production service at very competitive rates. We will come in and talk to you to identify the type of short video that will greatly assist you in promoting your work. We recently made a number of short films for Advice NI. Below is a testimonial sent to us from the organisation. We’ve also included two of the videos that we produced for them. Advice…

By VIEW editor Brian Pelan A Labour Party peer in Britain has asked the Home office to unblock any legal objection so that some unaccompanied child refugees can be brought to Northern Ireland. Lord Alf Dubs said: “Because there is no Assembly at present, I have asked a Home Minister to unblock any legal objection as there are people in Northern Ireland who are willing to take some of the children who are presently stranded in Europe.” Lord Dubs was in Belfast recently to speak at the 2018 Immigration Conference at the offices of the Law Society of Northern Ireland…

Above: Little Daithí Mac Gabhann with his parents Máirtín and Seph at the race yesterday.  All images: Mal McCann Four hundred participants from all over Ireland took part in an event yesterday in west Belfast to support the campaign for organ donation The annual Gaeltacht Quarter 10km run was helped as many people turned out to support the campaign spearheaded by local hero, toddler Daithí Mac Gabhann who is 20 months old. Daithí’s story has inspired thousands and informed so many more on the importance of organ donation as he waits for a heart transplant. Runners departed from An Chultúrlann at 9.00am…

By VIEW editor Brian Pelan There was a rare moment of light relief for the audience at Queen’s University, Belfast, last night, during an otherwise grim documentary about the plight of the Calais children who have been abandoned to fend for themselves in Europe. Organised by the Immigration Practitioners’ Group, Law Society of Northern Ireland, film maker Sue Clayton told how one of the refugees contacted her to say that he had made it to the best country in the world, “So, you made it to the UK,” she said. “No, I made it to Ireland,” he replied. Calais Children…

Image above: New NI Green Party leader Clare Bailey reading the latest news on austerity in the VIEW issue ‘Stories from the Frontline’ By VIEW editor Brian Pelan Clare Bailey, the new leader of the Green Party in Northern Ireland has vowed to fight welfare cuts and the introduction of universal credit as part of her key aims. “I’m absolutely delighted to be selected as the new leader of the Green Party in Northern Ireland. The previous leader Steven Agnew has done an excellent job in getting the party to where we are now. The first thing I will be doing…

The British Association of Social Workers Northern Ireland (BASW NI) said it was deeply concerned at the findings of a highly critical report by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights. The report, drafted by Professor Philip Alston, highlights the UK Government’s unwillingness to acknowledge the scope and impacts of poverty, and underlines its ideologically motivated drive to strip the social security system.  BASW NI Chair, Colin Reid said: “Poverty in Northern Ireland, as throughout the UK, is widespread and deeply damaging to the life opportunities of millions of people across society. The extent of the…

By VIEW editor Brian Pelan The first ever Citizens’ Assembly in Northern Ireland has called for an end to compulsory zero hour contracts in the social care system. The call for an end to zero hours contracts was one of 27 recommendations agreed by those who took part in the event which was held over two separate weekends in the Europa Hotel, Belfast. Those who took part discussed the adult social care system in Northern Ireland. The Citizens’ Assembly consisted of approximately 75 citizens selected at random to represent the Northern Ireland population in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, regional spread,…

By VIEW editor Brian Pelan The UN rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights today said he could not disagree with people who said the benefits system in the United kingdom was “inhuman and cruel”. Philip Alston was speaking at a press conference in London where he announced his preliminary findings on the impact of austerity, Universal Credit and food banks in the UK after his 12-day visit to a number of cities and towns, including Belfast. Mr Alston said: “A fifth of the population (14 million people) in the fifth largest economy are living in poverty. “Four million of…

By VIEW editor Brian Pelan A scheme to transfer around 2,000 homes from the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE) to housing associations has been halted after the plans were rejected by tenants. The stock transfer programme was announced in 2013 by the former Social Development DUP minister Nelson McCausland. It was described as an opportunity to provide funding for major improvement works to the homes. The Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE), which owns around 86,500 homes, is in the grip of a severe funding shortage and has recently warned that it may have to stop investing in its stock after 2020…

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