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Ireland Mediation Program Will Be Voluntary

Saturday, August, 5, 2017

One of the main reasons mediation is so effective is because of its voluntary nature.   Now, Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan from Ireland is taking advantage of the benefits of a voluntary program and emphasizing how much is can help as an alternative to court trials.  


Mr. Flanagan shared his thoughts during the Seanad debate on the Mediation Bill, following concerns raised by Women’s Aid that women subjected to domestic violence might be pressured into participating in mediation with their abusers. 


According to the minister, the legislation’s goal is to “promote mediation as a viable, effective and efficient alternative to court proceedings, thereby reducing legal costs, speeding up the resolution of disputes and relieving the stress and acrimony that often accompany court proceedings.  ”


Following the statements, several Senators also expressed concerns about domestic violence.   According to Flanagan, the process will be voluntary, which means both parties have the option to participate or not participate. 


He further explained that everyone involved understands forcing to an abuse victim to participate would be inappropriate, and that it also would not be recommended for proceedings involving children under the Child Care Acts. 


Those in support of the program point out abuse victims might feel more comfortable in the mediation environment because they would not need to make statements in the court room -  which is a very public setting.   However, if the victim is ever uncomfortable, all that needs to be done is for him or her to say they want to stop. 


Supporters of the program are hoping nothing holds it up, but others are still unsure it will be ideal for all cases.