Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan has launched a new Mediators’ Institute of Ireland brochure promoting mediation in farm disputes.
Speaking at the National Ploughing Championships today, Mr Flanagan said his background as a solicitor meant he was aware of the “distress” and “devastation” that can arise in farmland disputes, and suggested that mediation would help to protect the “social fabric” of rural Ireland.
He said: “Most importantly of all, from a family farm point of view, mediation allows the parties themselves [to] agree the resolution to the dispute, and therefore provides a means for good relations between family, friends and neighbours to be maintained.
“Strong family networks and good neighbourly relations have always been a crucial part of the fabric of rural Ireland. Mediation can help protect that social fabric.”
Mr Flanagan also revealed that he expects the Mediation Bill to become law within weeks, telling Championships attendees: “Court proceedings can be very costly, very stressful, and can take a great deal of time. The Mediation Bill is intended to promote mediation as a viable, effective and efficient alternative to court proceedings.
“The enactment of the Mediation Bill will speed up resolution of disputes, reduce legal costs associated with such disputes and reduce or avoid the stress involved in adversarial court proceedings.”
He thanked the MIII for its work and urged those attending the Championships to take home a copy of the leaflet.
Sabine Walsh, MII president, said: “We are delighted that Minister Flanagan is launching our new leaflet, which outlines the benefits that mediation can deliver to the farming community. The MII has been developing mediation in agriculture as a specialist sector over the past couple of years and now has a designated Farming and Agribusiness section of trained accredited Mediators with expert knowledge and extensive experience of the farming and agribusiness sector.”
Pat Finn, MII’s agriculture sector liaison officer, added: “Family farm disputes that need to be resolved have traditionally gone to Court. The legal route to dispute resolution is costly and the issue may be heard in public. Furthermore, this process invariably leads to fractured personal relationships or loss of business relationships. Mediation offers a far better alternative to dispute resolution particularly for family farm disputes, whether they be within family or business disputes.”