Mediators’ Institute hits out at ‘misleading’ media coverage of mediation

The Mediators’ Institute of Ireland (MII) has criticised “misleading” media coverage of mediation in reporting on the Vicky Phelan case.

President Sabine Walsh said: “The government’s proposed mediation process to help the women affected by the cervical check controversy has rightly received extensive coverage in the media.

“However, some of the coverage of how mediation operates has been misleading and inaccurate.

“For example, over the weekend some wildly inaccurate indications of the cost of mediation were broadcast. The reality is that the cost of mediated settlements is significantly lower than going to court, both in terms of fees and ancillary costs. Mediation is often scheduled for one day, and can be completed in this time, and is scheduled at a time convenient to the parties, which may be particularly important where the patient is suffering from a serious or terminal illness.”

Ms Walsh (pictured) also said some contributors “appeared to be unaware of the credentials of professionally qualified mediators”.

Qualified mediators must undergo extensive training, and mediators accredited by the Mediators’ Institute of Ireland must adhere to a code of practice and undertake continuous professional development to maintain their accreditation status, Ms Walsh said.

She added: “It is good to see that the Mediation Act, which came into force in January, is now demonstrating, as in the recent case of a successfully mediated settlement involving the birth of a Sligo boy, that it can deliver quality settlements. These are particularly difficult to achieve in cases that are complex and emotional.

“Contrary to some media comments made that mediation is a ‘difficult process’, mediation is a significantly less stressful process than being in court. It is a non-adversarial process, which places the parties’ needs and interests at its centre.

“Mediation provides, at an early opportunity, a ‘safe space’ for a patient and a medical professional to explore what has happened on an emotional and medical level, and look at what possible remedies are open to the patient. These remedies may go beyond what a court judgment can offer.”