UDA-linked restorative justice scheme praised

Credit: Pacemaker

An east Belfast initiative with ties to paramilitary group the UDA (Ulster Defence Association) is moving towards official recognition.

A review by the Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland (CJINI) found the Resolve project, which seeks, among other things, to reduce instances of punishment beatings, by offering non-violent resolutions to community disputes, was making a "useful contribution in a fragmented community" while "delivering value for a very small amount of money".

It is believed the be the first such initiative linked to the paramilitary group.

Run on an annual budget of just £37,000, it has only two staff members, supported by a small group of volunteers.

Its main activities include mediating neighbourhood disputes, helping people under paramilitary threat and tackling anti-social behaviour.

While a PSNI Neighbourhood Inspector said he would be happy to refer cases to Resolve, he is unable to do so while it remains unaccredited.

The inspectorate has recommended the scheme proceed to the next stage of accreditation.