Dr Róisín O’Shea, from Waterford City, is the Chair of a new national organisation for mediators seeking a seat on the soon to be established Mediation Council of Ireland.

I am very excited to announce the arrival of our new professional membership organisation for mediators, the Irish Professional Mediators’ Organisation, ‘IPMO’, a non-profit CLG. We have an amazing and diverse Board of experienced mediators and industry experts who are passionately committed to the development of mediation as a profession in Ireland, and we are already working with members to bring mediation front and centre as the best dispute resolution option.

Conflict is inevitable and can be found everywhere, varying in duration, intensity and scale. In Ireland and internationally there is both a growing recognition and re-embracing of mediation as more often than not the best forum to try and resolve a dispute.

My first introduction to peace-making was during informal meetings with George Mitchel and the American team during the Good Friday negotiations in the early 1990s. His patient and pragmatic approach, taking one bite-sized piece of the issues at a time, made a lasting impression on me and underpins my own work as a mediator today. We are reminded of how fragile lasting peace can be when significant change brings about new conflict, as has happened with Northern Ireland and Brexit, but through negotiation there is always a way to seek compromise, and it is our role as mediators to move disputants away from ultimatums or all or nothing thinking towards compromise and workable solutions.

As Chair of IPMO I bring 12 years of mediation experience having completed hundreds of cases and alongside that work I have carried out research in the Irish Courts to try and understand why families seek solutions through litigation. In case after case I observed Judges recommending mediation and State policy also supports the use of mediation for civil disputes. The introduction of legislation to place mediation on a statutory footing is a very welcome initiative, but the Mediation Act 2017 is not a sticking plaster for the core problem of persuading people away from the courts and towards mediation. That is a job of work that IPMO will tackle, we must help the public to imagine themselves trying mediation where they self-determine their own solutions rather than handing over decision-making to a third-party authority.

The formation of the Mediation Council of Ireland is a key component of the Mediation Act 2017, its role including the promotion of public awareness of mediation, maintaining and developing mediation standards and setting up a national register of mediators. The establishment of that Council is imminent which is why IPMO needed to come into being. There are 5 seats on that Council to represent the interests of mediators and mediation services, and as one of only 2 professional membership bodies for mediators in Ireland we are seeking a seat. The work of the Mediation Council will be crucial to the development of mediation in Ireland and the IPMO team have the skills, knowledge, and enthusiasm to work to achieve a future Ireland where mediation is always the first preference for dispute resolution. To learn more about IPMO go to www.theipmo.ie or email info@theipmo.ie

Chair of IMPO Dr Róisín O’Shea  chair@theipmo.ie 087 2184763 www.theipmo.ie

Photo: The Board of IPMO: Top row L-R Dr Róisín O’Shea, Marie Casey, Ercus Stewart SC, Anastasia Ward, Fredericka Sheppard. Bottom row L-R Joseph Ateb, Penelope McRedmond, Mary Connors Aldrige, Shane Dempsey, Gareth Leech