News and Events

New Youth Justice Strategy Published by Government

15 Apr 2021

The UCC Centre for Children’s Rights and Family Law was directly involved in the development of this new strategy and welcomes today’s launch.

The Irish Government has today published its Youth Justice Strategy 2021-2027. Details of the programme were launched at an online event hosted by the Department of Justice. The new strategy “is designed to provide a developmental framework to address key ongoing challenges, as well as new and emerging issues in the youth justice area”. It considers a wide range of issues relating to children and young people at risk of coming into contact with the criminal justice system, including early intervention on preventative work, family support, court processes and diversion from crime.

Professor Ursula Kilkelly of the Centre for Children's Rights and Family Law at the UCC School of Law was the academic lead on the National Youth Justice Strategy Group that drafted the strategy, and Dr Louise Forde of the Centre and Dr Katharina Swirak (UCC Department of Sociology and Criminology) were also together involved in supporting its development.

Professor Kilkelly and Dr Forde (now of Brunel University London) undertook a comprehensive review of the previous Youth Justice Action Plan, “Looking Back at Tackling Youth Crime: Youth Justice Action Plan 2014-2018: A Review of Progress Achieved and Lessons Learned”, which analysed its implementation, identified gaps in the plan, and made recommendations for the new strategy. This review has been published as supporting documentation alongside the strategy.

Another report prepared by Dr Louise Forde for the Youth Justice Strategy Steering Group which examines international standards in youth justice, “The International Standards Relating to Youth Justice: An Overview” has also been published today.

Commenting on the publication of the new strategy, Professor Ursula Kilkelly, Director of the Centre for Children’s Rights and Family Law at UCC, said:

We welcome the publication of this rights-based youth justice strategy, which seeks to advance the implementation of our international children’s right obligations in youth justice and detention, including those under the Convention on the Rights of the Child. This is reflective of the priorities and work of the UCC Centre for Children’s Rights and Family Law, and we were pleased to play a role in the inclusive, consultative and evidence-based process which has led to the development of the new strategy.

My work in this area has demonstrated that policy is crucially important in guiding the progressive development of the youth justice system. As academics and stakeholders, we look forward to monitoring the implementation of the strategy.

In a further UCC link to today’s launch, an IRC-funded COALECSE study based at the Centre for Children’s Rights and Family Law also had a direct impact on the new youth justice strategy. The study, “Ensuring the progressive reform of youth justice in Ireland in line with international research and evidence-based approaches”, was led by Professor Ursula Kilkelly as Principal Investigator, alongside Dr Louise Forde, Dr Katharina Swirak, Dr Sharon Lambert (UCC School of Applied Psychology), Dr Emma Hurley (UCC School of Applied Psychology) and Deirdre Kelleher (PhD Candidate at UCC School of Law).

Further information on the Youth Justice Strategy 2021-27 is available here:



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