CLARE Fine Gael TD Joe Carey has described a new Government initiative to reinvest the proceeds of crime in projects to improve community safety as a practical example of restorative justice.

And he is now encouraging local communities to apply for funding from the Community Safety Innovation Fund which will have an initial allocation of €2 million.

The call for applications  runs from April 6 until June 8 and grants will range from €20,000 to €150,000. It is envisaged that funding will be allocated through a process similar to that used to distribute Dormant Accounts Funding.

“Crime should not pay, so it’s fitting that illegally acquired money should be taken from criminals and used for the benefit of society and, especially for the protection of the public,” Deputy Carey explained.

“The type of project that could be supported by the new scheme include proposals to tackle crime or reduce the fear of crime; improve community safety or divert vulnerable individuals away from engagement in criminal behaviour”.

“The scheme will encourage the development of innovative ways of improving community safety from those who best understand local needs.

“Since its establishment, the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) has denied and deprived criminals of almost €200 million. The budget allocated to CAB has also increased significantly, from just over €1 million in 1996 to almost €11 million this year,” Deputy Carey added.

Launching the fund, Justice Minister Helen McEntee said that An Garda Síochána and the Criminal Assets Bureau have achieved significant success in seizing the ill-gotten gains of criminal gangs who seek to inflict misery on so many communities.

“This new fund will ensure that this success is reflected in new investments in our communities, and on projects which will build strong and safe communities.

“Community Safety is about people being safe and, just as importantly, feeling safe within their communities. This, of course, goes beyond policing alone.

“This fund will ensure that the best proposals get the funding they need, and it will encourage the development of innovative ways in which to improve community safety,” Minister McEntee added.