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US billionaire due to match CBRJ funding

Resource type: News

Irish News |

Original Source By Barry McCaffrey An American billionaire yesterday announced that he is to match British government funding for community-based restorative justice (CBRJ) projects. Over the next three years American billionaire Chuck Feeney and the NIO will jointly provide £600,000 funding for community-based restorative justice projects. It is understood to be the first time that the NIO has teamed up with a private charity to fund community projects in Northern Ireland. Through his charity, the Atlantic Philanthropies, the American billionaire has provided $344.5 million in funding to community projects in Northern Ireland since the 1990s. Mr Feeney has funded restorative justice groups across the north for more than 10 years, including groups based in nationalist areas who were not recognised by the PSNI. It is understood that only restorative justice groups working in loyalist areas will be eligible for funding at present. However, it is hoped that restorative justice groups based in nationalist areas, who have been working with the PSNI since January, will be officially recognised by the NIO in the near future. Welcoming the funding for CBRJ groups, security minister Paul Goggins said: CBRJ schemes have shown that they can fulfil a valuable role in working with victims and offenders in the aftermath of incidences of low level crime, helping to repair the harm caused to victims and the community as a whole. Welcoming government support for CBRJ groups, Atlantic Philanthropies director Martin O’Brien said: It has already been established that community-based restorative justice has played a significant role in promoting the peaceful resolution of conflicts in local communities and we believe that it can make a valuable contribution to building a more stable society in Northern Ireland. We are pleased that some mainstream support is now being provided for restorative justice by the NIO, PSNI, Youth Justice Agency and, in a separate initiative, by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive. The Atlantic Philanthropies hopes that other government departments and agencies will soon begin to develop similar initiatives and partnerships. Mr Feeney, an Irish-American with dual citizenship, was born in New Jersey during the Great Depression in 1931. He served as a radio operator in the US Air Force during the Korean War and went on to co-found the Duty Free Shoppers (DFS) group, which earned him his fortune. He has instructed Atlantic Philanthropies trustee that they must spend his $4 billion fortune on worthwhile charities by 2020. In a rare interview last year Mr Feeney revealed the reasons for giving away his millions. I had one idea that never changed in my mind that you should use your wealth to help people. I try to live a normal life, the way I grew up. I set out to work hard, not to get rich.

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CBRJ, Martin O'Brien