On 9th May I had the real honour of representing CEDR in Ireland in front of The Joint Committee on Justice, Defense and Equality at The Houses of Oireachtas in Dublin, on the subject of the proposed Mediation Bill. With no idea of what was to come, I was, and this is not usually the case, a little nervous (to say the least).

After lunch at Cafe En Seine on nearby Dawson Street, I arrived at Leinster House with my colleague, Nicola White, CEDR Ireland’s Practice Manager. With time to spare, we were lucky enough to bump in to a few friendly faces from the mediation community which helped settled the nerves - but lead to more coffee - making the caffeine levels dangerously high by kick off time!

When we were called to the room we still didn’t have much detail, so imagine my horror to hear we were on first! Luckily, Nicola had prepared an excellent opening statement and once you get started you forget about the TV cameras and the people in the public gallery, and just crack on with business. I was aware of the rogue Scouse accent in the room, but it was as warmly received as it always is in Ireland.[1]

Following my spot were lots of familiar faces from the likes of the Family Mediation Ireland, Dublin Bar Solicitors Association and the Irish Commercial Mediation Association (of which I am proudly a Council member), including CEDR Ireland Mediator Practice Group Members like Austin Kenny and William Aylmer, and Mediator List members like Helen Kilroy.

Once the opening statements were completed, which ran over time with some lasting nearer to 20 minutes than the allocated five minutes (that’s the last time I stick to the limit!), we each faced questions from our own Senator. Our questions were fielded excellently by Nicola, who authored the Law Reform Commission Report on ADR, a fact not lost on several of those present, and it was commented on a number of occasions what a pleasure it was to have Nicola there.

Our questions were mainly related to confidentiality at mediation and we were asked to comment on what happens if a party wishes to make a complaint about the mediation provider itself. Following further questioning from other Senators and Deputies to the other speakers, we suggested that with such a range of interested parties present we should collaborate on how to promote the use of mediation in Ireland, for mutual benefit. This was well received with four different bodies approaching us afterwards asking to be involved.

Various submissions on the Mediation Bill including our opening statement, and further information, including a record playback of the event, will be available in due course.

[1] For those who don’t know, Scouse is actually food! It was originally a stew eaten by sailors in “the old days” and is very similar to Irish Stew. Blind Scouse is for really poor people or vegetarians - it is Scouse with no meat. The distinctive Scouse accent is a mish mash of Lancastrian and Irish accents (plus others from across the world), and some Scousers (like my Uncle Mikey) sound like they could have originally started life on the streets of Dublin rather than across the water in Liverpool. For a great Scouse recipe click here.

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by Gregory Hunt

Founder of Gregory Hunt Mediation providing Ombudsman Services and Commercial Mediation.