Conference 2007 - Review

MII Annual Conference, 2007: "Mediation in the 21st Century: Embracing the Future?"

The Mediators’ Institute of Ireland's 9th annual conference took place in the Clarion Hotel, Cork from 16 - 18 of November.

“What do people really need when they are in a conflict and how are we as mediators meeting these needs?”

This was the challenging question posed by internationally renowned mediator and author Bernie Mayers in his keynote address at the Mediators Institute Ireland Annual Conference 2007 which took place in Cork recently. Mayers contends that key needs for people in conflict include having a voice in the conflict, feeling validated, having a sense of justice being done and wanting some form of vindication. He asked us to consider whether our definition of ourselves as mediators sometimes limits us in meeting these needs.

According to Mayer, we need to re-examine our role and he proposes a broader role for third party neutrals in conflict: conflict specialists with a wider focus in supporting people to deal with conflict as opposed to the narrower resolution-focussed role. “How can we help people responsibly raise a conflict to a higher level”, asked Mayer, and he cited the key role we can play of an “ally” – helping people be effective in conflict.

This theme was taken further by Cinnie Noble, keynote speaker from Canada on the second morning. She outlined her pioneering work in developing a unique and highly effective coaching model which empowers people to manage their own conflicts. Noble urges us to shift our thinking from a ‘problem to potential’ and asks us to visualise “What will success look like for mediation as a credible field, discipline and profession?”

Speakers from our own shores included Dr. Lucy Fallon-Byrne from the National Centre for Partnership and Performance who outlined the strong commitment her organisation has to promoting a workplace culture which supports alternative dispute resolution. Other conference themes included workplace bullying and mediation; multi-cultural dispute resolution as well as sessions on workplace conflict and partnership and restorative justice.

Additonal speakers and presentations included:

  • Dr Julie MacFarlan: Author, Professor at the Faculty of Law of the University of Windsor and recipient of the International Academy of Mediators’ Award of Excellence: Islamic Dispute Resolution Processes and Implications for Multicultural Societies
  • Dr. John O'Dowd: Workplace Conflict and Partnership
  • Peter Keeley and Keith Hastie: Restorative Justice at Home and Abroad
  • Declan Fahie: Workplace Bullying and Mediation
  • Cork Community Mediation Service: Community Mediation in Practice
  • Tony Whatling: Director, TW Training Works: Safe Family Mediation Matters: Domestic Violence and Abuse Issues Re-Examined
  • Danny McFadden: Director, CEDR: Master Class in Advanced Commercial Mediation Skills

The three-day conference was opened on the Friday evening by the Deputy Lord Mayor of Cork who had earlier in the day also launched the Cork Community Mediation Service. The Clarion Hotel in Cork proved excellent hosts to over 120 delegates in what was a highly stimulating and varied programme. We look forward to more of the same in Sligo on November 14-16, 2008!�