Check Against Delivery
Launch of the EU Victims Directive
Massive Open Online Course
Bar of Ireland, Church St, Dublin
Wednesday 29 November 2017
I am delighted to be here this afternoon and want to warmly thank the co-hosts, the Bar of Ireland, the Law Society of Ireland and the Irish Council for Civil Liberties for their kind invitation to me to speak at this event.
It is a real pleasure to be with you here today to launch this innovative project.
This is particularly so having worked so closely with Minister Flanagan and Department officials and other Parliamentary colleagues across the political spectrum in progressing the Victims of Crime legislation through the Oireachtas this year.
Events such as today’s are very encouraging. This project is giving tangible effect to the application of the EU Victims Directive. It will do this in a very practical way. Most importantly, it will help strengthen the supports provided for victims of crime in Ireland and in the other jurisdictions involved. This is very welcome.
It is also very encouraging to see the calibre of the people involved with this initiative. I am taken by the level of support and involvement in the project. And I am very heartened to see the strong collaborative approach being used.
This is reflected by the range and expertise of panel speakers here today but also by the online programme contributors who are assisting across the different organisations and sectors. Today’s representative audience and interest in the project also demonstrates this collective and committed approach in helping victims.
So I’d like to warmly thank all involved for their support for this initiative. Though our roles and activities differ, essentially we are all working together in improving the supports we provide for the victims of crime in our society. This will always be a fundamental guiding principle informing our work in this area.
And as many of you will know the holding of this launch today is also very timely. I am delighted to confirm that my colleague Minister Flanagan was in a position to commence all, bar a small number of the criminal evidence related provisions of the Victims of Crime Act earlier this week.
And I am advised that the remaining provisions of the Act will be coming into force early next year, as soon as the necessary operational arrangements have been put in place.
Let me once again take this opportunity today to thank all who inputted in the drafting of this landmark legislation, many of whom work with victims on a daily basis and are here today.
Your supports during what I appreciate can be a difficult and sometimes protracted legislative process, has undoubtedly helped shape our Act for the better. Thank you again today for all of your support in this regard.
The launch of today’s project will help us forge ahead in improving our responses to people experiencing crime. This work will build on and complement the significant work on victim oriented measures which has been underway across the criminal justice sector in recent times.
In tandem with developing our legislation, and as you may know, the criminal agencies have been actively putting operational arrangements in place to ensure that the rights conferred by the Directive are provided to victims.
Some examples of this include,
- An Garda Siochána’s establishment of its Victim Services Offices, its National Protective Service Bureau and its phased roll out of Protective Services Units across all Garda Divisions.
- The work of the communications and victims liaison unit in the Office of the DPP for ensuring that the office continues to meets its requirements under the Directive.
- The work being done by the Courts Service in improving facilities for victims as part of the major capital investment programme underway in upgrading our courts infrastructure
- The victim liaison services being provided by our Prisons and Probation Services and
- The ongoing work being done by all criminal justice agencies and the judiciary in preparing for and progressing towards the full implementation of the Directive and the Victims of Crime legislation.
All of this work is being supported by the provision of victim oriented training within the agencies to ensure greater supports as required are given to victims. A Victims Services Group chaired by the Victims of Crime Office in my Department is also in place to drive and support this work across the sector.
Obviously all of this work does not operate in a vacuum. The essential direct help being provided by our victim support services are fundamental in this respect. These supports and the advocacy work done by those services and by organisations such as the Victims Rights Alliance is, therefore, of huge value and importance.
Many of those organisations are represented here today and/or are participating in this project. I warmly commend you for your ongoing work in helping so many people during what can be a particularly traumatic time in their lives.
Initiatives such as today’s project launch builds on all of this work by strengthening our overall response. The project itself is very innovative being free, accessible and user friendly in allowing participants to direct their own learning experience and their own pace of learning. It will also foster collegiate learning and provide users with access to a very rich store of resources and expertise on victims related issues.
I want to wholeheartedly commend the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, the Victims Rights Alliance, the Bar of Ireland and the Law Society for their vision in promoting and leading out on this initiative.
I would, in particular, like to thank Maria McDonald on behalf of the ICCL and VRA, Lindsay Bond O’Neill and Mary Rose Gearty from the Bar and Rory O’Boyle from the Law Society. Also sincere thanks to everybody who has or who will be assisting on this project. Thanks are also due to the organisations involved from the partner states who have also committed to the project.
I must also warmly thank the European Commission for their funding and other support to enable you to carry out this work. All of this demonstrates again the very real partnership and collective approach being taken on this project which is so heartening to see.
Without further ado, let me officially launch the project and wish each and everyone involved all the very best wishes in its roll out.