Community Mediation Donegal

Community Mediation

Community mediation works on improving the quality of life for those living in a community and to enable them to live together in a certain degree of harmony.

Disputes often arise between neighbours, or groups in the community. There are often disputes between Landlords and Tenants. Other examples of disputes in the community would be noise, anti-social behaviour, boundary problems, abusive behaviour, common areas, pets, repairs, maintenance to gardens and buildings.

Community mediation is a process facilitating a constructive, safe, impartial environment for resolving disputes and conflicts between individuals, groups and organisations. The enabling part of Mediation is that the participants control the process and create their own alternatives and solutions to stop or avoid further destructive confrontation, prolonged possible litigation, avoidance or violence.


It offers the participants an opportunity to discuss their concerns and needs. It also protects and strengthens relationships into the future, builds connections between people and groups, and creates a forum where it is possible to solve disputes within the community and IT helps restore the balance needed to bring harmony back into the areas faced with conflict. The mediator guides the participants through conversations, providing a safe environment to discuss each of the participant’s problems and needs whilst they retain their own decision-making authority in addressing their own and their community’s unique conflict needs.

The process is an entirely voluntary one whereby the mediator help participants work together to resolve the dispute. This involves face-to-face conversation where the participants hear each other’s concerns and then work with each other to come up with ideas for the resolution of the dispute. The mediator will control the process and will actively listen to each side separately and then to allow everyone an opportunity to have their say. The mediator is impartial and will not take sides or give advice, and support the participants through the process. The participants can either then develop solutions that meet their own particular needs unique to their own situation or indeed to agree on parts of the dispute and to park for the time being the parts of the conflict they are not yet ready to face or address.

Case example: A music promoter wishes to bring a big music star to play a number of concerts in a football stadium in a built up residential neighbourhood. Residents of the neighbourhood are concerned about noise levels, litter, anti-social behaviour, traffic flow, aesthetics and property values. Local meetings have been loud and contentious as residents have made their concerns known. A community mediator is called in to facilitate meetings where all the stakeholders have the opportunity to voice their opinions, ask questions and offer ideas as to how to meet the resident’s needs and minimising disruption to the neighbourhood. Proposals have been put forward by both sides and agreement has been reached on some of the issues. Both sides leave feeling that not only have they been heard but they have contributed constructively to the area and their own unique needs in relation to their problem.

Case example: Two families had lived peaceably for years alongside each other. There was a laurel hedge between the properties. Over the years the hedge thickened to over five feet wide. As the neighbours were getting on in age and the hedge was getting too much for them to control and maintain they agree to remove it and replace it with a wooden fence. The hedge was removed by a contractor but after six months with nothing progressed neighbour A decided to replace the fence himself. Neighbour B immediately demanded that the fence be taken down as it was trespassing on their property as the original line had been moved. Neighbour A maintained that their builder had followed the boundary line.

The two neighbouring families fell out and eventually went to their solicitor’s and the matter ended up in Court. After months in Court Mediation was suggested by the Court. Neighbour B argued that the new fence encroached on their boundary in certain places giving neighbour A extra land, whilst neighbour A maintained this could not be the case as their builder had used the original boundary line, therefore if they had encroached they always had done, and if this was not an issue before why should it be now, and indeed as they had paid for the whole fence and they would not take it down.

During mediation the neighbours agreed to employ a digital mapping surveyor and to build a fence between them based on his findings. They agreed each would pay half the costs involved excluding any legal fees already incurred.

The Mediation session took 4 hours with one adjournment over two separate days and cost the parties €820 (€410 each) This was in contrast to the large legal fees they had already expended and after almost 18 months in court the case still had not been settled. In addition the neighbours got on with living their lives with no major lasting damage to their relationship.

Below are some issues that community mediation has dealt with:

  • Neighbour disputes
  • Noise/nuisance
  • Boundary disputes
  • Parking disputes
  • Landlord/Tenant disputes
  • School conflicts – student to student conflicts
  • Public safety
  • Animal disputes/pets
  • Discrimination: older adults, race, sexual orientation

The Process

When the mediator is appointed, they will contact each of the participants individually in a pre-mediation session to explain the process and to get an overview of the issues. The mediator will request the parties sign up to a mediation agreement. This explains the mediation process, as well as setting out that all discussions are totally confidential and are treated as without prejudice and are in a genuine attempt to settle the dispute. This means that anything discussed during the mediation cannot then be used as evidence in any future legal proceedings.

The mediation joint session usually takes place off-site at a neutral venue and with the mediator and all the parties present. A virtual service is also offered if parties cannot attend for healthcare or other reasons if this is suitable to the dispute itself.

During the mediation a separate room can be made available to allow the participants an opportunity to talk privately with the mediator, themselves, or their legal representatives. All information given to the mediator during the mediation’s separate discussions will be kept confidential, unless express permission is given to offer it in the interest of progress.

The mediator often goes back and forth between the parties to seek an agreement between both sides before bringing both parties back together.

Mediation with public bodies

In disputes involving public bodies, mediation offers particularly valuable advantages. It can save money and other scarce public resources, protect from adverse publicity or damaging precedent, and avoid damaging long-term relations between the public sector and stakeholders. A further important benefit is its flexibility, which allows settlement terms to be tailored to suit the complex sensitivities of disputes involving public organisations. It is a cheap and quick way of resolving conflict, by contrast to litigation which can drain scarce public and private resources (financial and personal) and which could run for months or years.

It defuses tension, unlike litigation which promotes antagonism and entrenchment where authorities, private parties and communities are often locked into long term relationships from which they can’t escape, the legacy of conflict can be particularly damaging.

It is a good way to manage risk. Not just litigation risk, which is the inherent uncertainty that lies at the heart of all legal proceedings. But also the risks faced by public authorities when balancing competing stakeholder interests (e.g. cost to taxpayer, adverse publicity, protection of the public interest, etc.)  and which is always under public scrutiny

These are the reasons why public bodies, and those involved in disputes with them, are increasingly turning to mediation as their first choice for dispute resolution.

Examples would include:

  • Judicial review
  • Local government
  • Planning
  • Environment
  • Roads
  • Compulsory purchase
  • Land in public ownership
  • Housing
  • Commercial and other private disputes involving public bodies acting in a private capacity
  • Licensing
  • Nuisance
  • Public procurement
  • Education
  • Health
  • Health
  • Public sector pensions

Frequently Asked Questions

What is community Mediation?

Community Mediation is a conversation between two or more people that disagree, led by a trained, neutral mediator. Mediation is a less expensive, time-saving alternative to court. In mediation the disputing parties have the chance to settle their differences in a safe, confidential and efficient manner. Mediation helps people get what they need, whether it’s peace and quiet, family unity, a financial settlement, or just a chance to be heard. Community mediators are professionally trained and committed to promoting peace in our communities in a safe flexible and encouraging environment.

What sort of disputes can be helped by mediation?

Mediation can help in any dispute where each side is willing to accept that by discussion and respectful negotiation, they may get an acceptable result preferable to either going to court, feuding, or ignoring the problem. Some examples of disputes dealt with in mediation include:

Employer/Employee (such as co-worker disputes and supervisor/employee conflicts)

Separating couples (custody, mortgage repayments other relationships)

Business (partnership dissolution, contracts, real estate, gallery/artist)

Neighbourhood disputes (such as noise, nuisance property, animals, and lifestyle differences)

Landlord-Tenant (rent, security, deposit, repairs, damages)

Consumer/Merchant (home improvement/repairs, service, merchandise, warranty)

Family (including couples, custody, siblings, cross-generational, and parent-teen conflicts])

School (such as those among students and/or between parents, staff, and administration

Insurance (disputes between insurance companies themselves and /or their insured.


Public sector disputes (disputes with local authorities)

What happens if one party refuses to mediate?

If one party refuses to mediate then mediation is not for you. Mediation is voluntary and the process can only take place if both parties agree to participate in good faith.

What about confidentiality?
Confidentiality is one of the cornerstones of mediation. All communication during the process is confidential with certain limited exceptions such as a threat to life or in cases of child abuse or the abuse of a vulnerable adult. The Mediator cannot disclose what is said in mediation and will only disclose that mediation has taken place if asked by a judge in a court. The Mediator will only disclose if mediation was held or not held. All parties agree that they are entering into the process with full confidentiality in place and will be asked to sign a document by the mediator to that effect. This in effect means that the process itself and all verbal or other communication during the process are totally confidential. The parties can waive this process or elements of it only by mutual agreement.
Will the Mediators suggest solutions?
The benefit of mediation is that the participants are encouraged to offer solutions to their own particular disputes .The mediator’s primary role is to assist the parties in their discussion, so they are able to hear each other and decide how they wish to address the problem. The Mediator will remain impartial, will not judge or make decisions and see that the process is fair to all concerned. In some circumstances when the participants are at an impasse they have asked the mediator if they might have any suggestions to make. Most mediators will offer possible solutions in the form of options in times of impasse and if the participants are willing to solve the problem. Ultimately, it is the parties’ decision as to what is best for their situation. The mediator will facilitate the discovery of any possible solution by skilful questioning of and discussion with the parties.
How do I know mediation will be fair?

Mediators are impartial. The mediator does not take sides, or make decisions and is there for all the participants. The mediator will ensure that the process takes place in a neutral venue and is conducted in a safe friendly environment. If the Mediator detects any deviation from these norms or if a serious power imbalance emerges he/she will stop the process. In addition any participant can stop the mediation process at any time; mediation will only go ahead if all the participants want it to.

How much does it cost?

For most mediation sessions (with the exception of complex financial or legal matters) the mediator charges a fixed hourly fee to be paid by both parties equally unless they agree otherwise.

Usually Jh Mediation will charge:

Pre-mediation meetings – €100 per person

Joint mediations sessions hourly – €100 per person

Settlement meeting (separate from Joint mediations) – €100

Travel allowance (not applicable in Letterkenny) – €0.40/km

Cost of meeting rooms, usually (for half a day) – €110

EXAMPLE: Typical mediation with 2 hour joint session with no separate settlement session:

Mediators fee – €600

Conference room – €110

Total – €700

Cost per person – €350