Norwegian Justice Delegation visit 31st May 2017 in Dublin
On 31st May 2017 in the Criminal Courts of Justice, V-SAC had the opportunity to meet with the delegation from the Norwegian Justice System who were in Dublin on a two-day visit. Tony McDermottroe, former director and current volunteer, gave an overview of V-SAC, including a brief history and a description of the service we offer victims of crime, witnesses and their family/friends during their time at court. The Volunteer Co-ordinator, Sara Murphy, showed them around the Victim/Witness suite and the Manager, Dympna Kenny, provided them with statistics about our service, the types of cases we provide support for and the number of active volunteers.
Victim Support Europe – Annual Conference 17th and 18th May 2017 in Dublin
Victim Support Europe held its annual conference on 17th and 18th May 2017 at the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham, Dublin. The theme of this year’s conference was “Victims of Crime: Rights, Needs and Responses”.
V-SAC was represented at the conference by the Chairperson, Ms. Patricia MacBride and the Manager, Dympna Kenny.
People assisted in 2016 –
During 2016, V-SAC provided court accompaniment to 991 victims of crime, their families and witnesses. The cases involved 26 homicides, 110 rape/sexual assault cases, 88 Assault cases, 78 domestic violence cases and 52 other trials (including human trafficking, criminal damage, theft, etc) in the Central Criminal Court, Circuit and District Courts. We also supported victims in 34 pre-trial visits, 79 sentencing hearings and 2 appeals.
Governance Code for Community and Voluntary Organisations
At the 2014 AGM held on 24 July 2014, the Board and members of V-SAC formally agreed to sign up to the Code of Practice for Good Governance of Community, Voluntary and Charitable Organisations in Ireland. Further details of the Code are set out in the “About Us” section under “Governance Code”. V-SAC is now compliant with the vast bulk of the items set out in the checklist for a Type B organisation and the Board expects to have the remaining outstanding items completed by the end of the year at the latest.
Special Merit award for V-SAC Volunteer
At the Tallaght People of the Year Awards ceremony in December 2013, one of our volunteers, Noelle Fitzsimons, was given a special merit award. The citation for Noelle read as follows – for many years of dedicated, compassionate voluntary work, supporting victims of all types of crime at their lowest and most vulnerable, with deep sensitivity, kindness and deep understanding, for being a shoulder to cry on and lean on for victims of crime as they try to journey out of their difficult experiences.
As an organisation we are very fortunate to have volunteers of the calibre of Noelle who are so dedicated and willing to give so much of their time in assisting victims of crime. Well done Noelle – V-SAC is very proud of the great work you do for victims and your wonderful contribution to our organisation.
Launch of the 2012 Annual Report of the Commission for the Support of Victims of Crime
As part of the Presidency of the EU, Mr. Alan Shatter, T.D., Minister for Justice, hosted a two day ministerial meeting between the EU and USA in Dublin Castle on Thursday and Friday 13 and 14 June 2013. On the second day of the meeting, Friday, 14 June, the Minister launched the Annual Report for 2012 of the Commission for the Support of Victims of Crime to which a number of groups representing victims of crime – including V-SAC – were invited. As well as the Minister, the distinguished guests included the Attorney General of the USA, Mr. Eric Holder, the EU Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, Ms. Viviane Reding, the President of Victim Support Europe, Mr. David McKenna, and Mr. Ray McAndrew (Chairperson) and Mr. Greg Heylin representing the Commission for the Support of Victims of Crime. The Commission’s Annual Report for 2012 is available on the Commission’s website (www.csvc.ie) under the heading “publications”.
Public Information Campaign –
On Thursday 21 March 2013, the Hon. Mrs. Justice Susan Denham, Chief Justice, launched the Public Information Campaign for V-SAC at an event in the Courts of Criminal Justice, Parkgate Street. Other guests among the attendance at the launch included the Garda Commissioner, Mr. Martin Callinan, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Ms. Claire Loftus, the Secretary General of the Department of Justice, Mr. Brian Purcell, and the Chief Executive of the Courts Service of Ireland, Mr. Brendan Ryan. From the judiciary, The Hon. Mr. Justice Paul J.P. Carney and the Hon. Mr. Justice Patrick J. McCarthy attended. The Commission for the Support of Victims of Crime was represented by Mr. Ray McAndrew and others in attendance included representatives from the Crime Victims Unit of An Garda Síochána, the Courts Service of Ireland, the Department of Justice, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and other victims’ organisations.
In her address launching the event, the Chief Justice praised the work of V-SAC and the role of volunteers in society. The Chief Justice also spoke about the new legal changes that will be brought about by the new EU Directive on minimum standards for victims and the challenges that will ensue. In a very moving account of her recent experiences using the V-SAC service, Margaret (who asked not be identified) gave a wonderful insight into the trauma of being a victim and what it meant to have what she referred to as the “security blanket” of the private space and assistance she was afforded through the court proceedings.
The purpose of the campaign is to heighten awareness of the service, to increase the level of support we can provide in the Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin and roll out the service to other courts nationally.
As part of the recent restructuring of V-SAC, a grant was received last autumn from the Ireland Funds to fund the construction of a website and print promotional material. Leaflets and posters have been distributed to every Garda Station and public library in the country.
At present our primary source of funding is the annual grant received from the Commission for the Support of Victims of Crime, occasional donations from Court Poor Boxes and small amounts from individual donors. Sourcing of more regular donations and additional outside funding will be critical to the objective of helping victims of crime and expanding V-SAC on a nationwide basis. We have also added an online donation facility to our new updated website.
Victims’ rights –
In recent years, victims’ rights have been strengthened and improved through the adoption of EU legislation for both victims and specific groups of victims. A new EU Directive establishing Minimum Standards on the rights, protection and support of victims of crime has recently been adopted by the EU Council of Ministers and will replace the existing 2001 Directive. The new Directive is just one of a number of planned measures under the Stockholm Programme (2010 – 2014) which seeks to integrate and co-ordinate the approach to victims of crime across Member States of the EU.
For further details see the European Commission website at http://ec.europa.eu/justice/criminal/victims/index_en.htm