INTERVENTION by a professional mediator is to be tried out on a once-off pilot basis to help in resolving disputes and problems in Shannon housing estates.
Use of mediation services is included in the range of responses that can be used by the county council’s estate management administration, but hiring in a professional mediation services “would have financial implications” the Shannon town manager, Bernadette Kinsella pointed out in her written response in advance of this week’s meeting of Shannon Electoral Area councillors.
However, Ms Kinsella ultimately indicated that the services of a mediator would “probably” be used as a once-off trial.
The use of mediation services had been urged in a motion from Councillor Patricia McCarthy who said, “We cannot have situations where individuals or families are intimidating their neighbours in the estates. At the moment, we are using the resources of the council, the gardaí, the health service.” It would be cheaper “in the long run” to employ professional mediators, she contended.
Councillor Gerry Flynn supported the chairperson’s call. While estates around the town were organising into voluntary groups and getting involved in adding to the quality of life in their estates, the problems were being created by what gardaí termed “domestic” incidents, he said. “Parties are going on until all hours in the morning, there is drinking in the streets and children running wild and not under any control.”
Councillor Flynn suggested that the six-month probation period for tenants who are allocated houses should be monitored more strictly, but Councillor McCarthy responded, “Some people are exceptionally clever at behaving themselves for the first six months.”
But Councillor McCarthy also acknowledged, “If a family gets a bad name in an estate, they tend to be blamed for everything. So in cases where neighbours are having difficulties, bringing in outside mediators could help to bring about resolution.”
When town manager, Ms Kinsella agreed to the introduction of professional mediation services as a once-off trial, Councillor McCarthy said it would save on “tying up the council’s estate management staff in fire brigade actions”.