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Founded in 1998, CRJI aspires to build a tolerant, responsive and inclusive community by providing restorative justice services to local areas. 

Event | A Conversation on Harm Reduction and Substance Use

Updated: 4 days ago

CRJI witness first-hand how entire families and the community continue to be impacted by substance use, addiction and mental health. Therefore, CRJI is leading an awareness-raising session entitled “A Conversation on Harm Reduction and Substance use” which brings a number of guest speakers together, each with their own background and expertise involved in service delivery, activism, and research. The event will create a safe space to learn about the impact of drugs, support people to ask questions and increase their confidence as to how to seek help.

The event will be hosted at the Balmoral Hotel Belfast, on Friday, June 10th, beginning at 9:30 am. Tickets are limited to 2 people per organization and can be requested from Ciara McCarthy by emailing

Learn more about the event and the terrific lineup of speakers here.

This will be an all-day event, starting with opening remarks by Professor Kieran McEvoy.

Kieran McEvoy is a Professor of Law and Transitional Justice at the School of Law and a

Senior Research Fellow at the Senator George J Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice, Queen’s University Belfast. He is a Fellow of the British Academy, a Member of the Royal Irish Academy and a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences. He has conducted research in over a dozen conflicted or transitional countries on topics including politically motivated prisoners, ex-combatants, victims, amnesties, truth recovery, human rights, restorative justice and the role of lawyers in conflict transition. He has authored or co-authored four books, co-edited eight books or special issues, a four volume Handbook of Transitional Justice and over sixty journal articles and scholarly book chapters. His research has garnered a number of awards including the British Society of Criminology book of the year award and the Socio-legal Studies Association article of the year, 3 times.

“CRJI are excited to facilitate this conference and believes a restorative response is required to address the drug situation and harm caused in our communities. It’s time for an all Island Drug strategy”
Jim McCarthy, Director

Followed by a questions and answers session facilitated by Dr John Topping. Dr Topping is a Senior Lecturer at Queens University Belfast and a Senior Research Fellow at The Senator George J Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice. John’s research focus over the past decade has related mainly to the issue of community policing, police reform and security governance. He has a wide array of experience working with statutory policing institutions in Northern Ireland and beyond. Much of his work relates to critical examination of police practice, particularly around police stop and search and police powers. He also has experience of police training, along with advisory and consultancy roles which provide unique internal and external perspectives on policing more generally.

A range of informative guest speakers will be in attendance including:

Senator Lynn Ruane

Senator Lynn Ruane is from Tallaght, she has developed community drug services and community initiatives over 15 years in Tallaght and Dublin’s Communities. While working in addiction services, Lynn also worked across many homeless services, mainly low threshold accommodation for street sleepers. Lynn worked to Introduce legislation on a health led-approach to addiction; removing minor criminal sanctions for drug possession.

Dr Sharon Lambert

Dr Sharon Lambert joined the teaching staff in the School of Applied Psychology in 2014 following a number of years working within community-based settings that provided supports to socially excluded groups.

Sharon’s research interests revolve primarily around the impact of trauma on development, its link with substance dependence and mental health and consequent considerations for service design and delivery. Sharon conducts research with community-based partners such as addiction, homelessness, criminal justice and education organisations. Sharon is a member of the Psychological Society of Ireland, Silent Voices Advisory Group and was appointed to the statutory Parole Board by the Minister for Justice.

Session Title: Poverty and other Traumas

Dr Richard Healy

Dr Richard Healy completed his PhD in 2020 and worked for a number of years lecturing in Maynooth University in the schools of sociology and criminology. He then worked in Shelton Abbey prison, working with inmates just prior to release, attempting to re-integrate long serving offenders with education and housing needs.

Richard has been a member of the group Service Users Rights in Action since 2015, worked with long term homelessness and has published several reports informed by methadone use in the Republic of Ireland and the human rights of service users. A former service user, Richard spent two decades using methadone services in both a clinical and out-patient capacity.

Currently, Richard has three papers under peer review and is now employed in disability. Richard’s other research interests are the use of sacred medicine and alternative modes of recovery.

Session Title: Harm Reduction or Harm Production—A history of harm reduction responses in the Republic of Ireland.

Andy O’Hara

Andy O Hara has been an active community worker for over 10 years. He has worked with those most marginalised, oppressed and excluded from power to create the conditions for those groups to play a lead role in increasing their participation in programmes, projects, policies, strategies and decision making spaces which recognises and address’ barriers; including structural barriers to meaningful participation at all levels which can enable us to formulate strategies that go beyond consultation and create a policy context for full participation that can lead to social change.

Andy currently works in UISCE, which works for and with People Who Use Drugs to ensure their voices are heard in decision making spaces. Andy currently represents UISCE on the National Oversight Committee (NOC).

Session Title: Peer Partnership for Change.

Anna Quigley

Anna is Co-ordinator of Citywide Drugs Crisis Campaign, a network of community organisations involved in responding to the drugs problem in Ireland. Anna has over 30 years’ experience working in community development and drug-related issues and has a passionate commitment to the engagement of the people who are most affected by public policies in the development and implementation of those policies.

Anna participates as a community representative on the national government structures that oversee Ireland’s National Drugs Strategy (NDS). She is currently a member of the National Oversight Committee (NOC) for the National Drugs Strategy (NDS) and is also Citywide’s representative on the EU Civil Society Forum on Drugs.

Paula Kearney

Paula Kearney is a community development worker and activist from the North Inner City of Dublin. She has been involved in many campaigns and programmes that promote a non biased approach to working with people who use drugs, she has been a member of Service Users Rights In Action since 2016 and has been involved in a campaign to protect the human rights of people who use drugs when seeking treatment for their drug use. She has also been involved in the Stop The Stigma campaign with Citywide Drugs Crisis Campaign and worked for a few years with the SAOL project in Dublin, up until recently the SAOL project was the only all women's project in Ireland that worked specifically with women on their education and addiction needs. Paula was part of the BRIO team there where she worked with women who have dual issues of addiction and criminality.

Another project Paula worked was developing a manual in collaboration with women who are living and lived experience of drug related stigma, the manual was produces as part of a project with Citywide and Trinity College to deliver to professionals working directly with people who use drugs. Paula attended Maynooth University where she is now qualified as a Bachelor of Social Science in Community Development and Youth Work and is currently working as a community development worker with ICON (Inner City Organisation Network) and studying with Maynooth University to gain a Master of Social Science Degree in Rights and Social Policy.

The West Belfast Health and Wellbeing Programme is funded by Cooperation Ireland and The Executive Office. CRJI are a delivery partner on this programme alongside USDT, Sally Gardens, Roden Street Community Development Group, HEART Project, Blackie River Community Groups and UACF, among others.


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