Canadian Ambassador launches innovative family mediation from WIT

Humanities
Shane Dempsey (Arc Mediation), Dr Sinead Conneely (WIT), Canadian Ambassador to Ireland Kevin Vickers, Dr Róisín O'Shea (Arc Mediation) and Mayor of South Dublin Cllr. Paul Gogarty.

Shane Dempsey (Arc Mediation), Dr Sinead Conneely (WIT), Canadian Ambassador to Ireland Kevin Vickers, Dr Róisín O'Shea (Arc Mediation) and Mayor of South Dublin Cllr. Paul Gogarty.

The Family Mediation Project is a research initiative based on a family mediation model developed during the course of doctoral research at WIT

The Family Mediation Project, an exciting new Waterford Institute of Technology research initiative, has been launched in Dublin by the Ambassador of Canada to Ireland Kevin Vickers.

Following pilot phases over the past few years, the ‘real world’ phase of the project is being run in collaboration with volunteer mediators from Dublin Community Mediation (DCM) and the four Family Resource Centres across the South and Southwest of Dublin.

The Family Mediation Project is a not-for-profit means-tested research initiative based on a family mediation model developed by Dr Róisín O’Shea during the course of her doctoral research at WIT on the family law courts.

Dr O’Shea, the principal investigator on the project says: “The Family Mediation Project offers means-tested family mediation dealing with guardianship, parenting (access), custody and maintenance, prioritising the best interests of children, and meeting children to hear their views.”

The co-ordinator is Dr Sinead Conneely, WIT lecturer and formerly Dr O’Shea’s research supervisor. She explains what the project hopes to achieve: “The Family Mediation Project is test-running the next iteration in family mediation, comprising the most effective elements sourced globally, with a particular focus on innovations in Canada, and is gathering empirical data to evidence outcomes.”

Dr O’Shea’s research at WIT was funded by the Irish Research Council and published in 2014. An introduction to the Chief Justice of Canada, Beverley McLachlan in 2008 inspired Dr O’Shea to undertake a PhD, which led to an opportunity for her during her research to shadow family laws judges at the Superior Courts of Justice, Family branch, Toronto, and the Oshawa family courts. She was particularly impressed with the delivery of family mediation at the family court locations, and observed innovations that laid the bedrock for this project.

Commenting on the Canadian influence on the project Dr Conneely said “we greatly value the ongoing guidance and assistance from Canadian researchers and professionals dealing with families, and are very appreciative of the support of the Ambassador today to help raise awareness about this project.”

“This collaboration between Dublin Community Mediation, the local Family Resource Centres and us creates an exciting partnership between voluntary, statutory agencies and a research institution to further test the effectiveness of this innovative approach on a larger scale at community level in the Dublin area” Dr Conneely added.

How it works

Mediation for parents and their children or grandparents and their children and grandchildren is now available through Dublin Community Mediation (tel: 01-4515910), Quarryvale Family Resource Centre (tel: 01-6230264), Killinarden Family Resource Centre (tel: 01-4527143), St Kevin’s Family Resource Centre (tel: 01-4627149), and Ballyboden Family Resource Centre (tel: 01-4935953). The team aim to offer a first appointment within 10 days. To be eligible the participants must each have a gross income of less than €22,000 and have less than €5,000 in savings. Fees are charged at €25 per hour. The project offers bi-gender co-mediation, and Skype sessions, where one participant is geographically distant in Ireland or residing in another country.


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