Six Travellers graduate from course in conflict resolution

One-year course teaches conflict resolution to Travellers

The St Margarets Traveller Housing scheme in Ballymun. File photograph: Cyril Byrne /The Irish Times

The St Margarets Traveller Housing scheme in Ballymun. File photograph: Cyril Byrne /The Irish Times

 

A new course to train Travellers to in conflict resolution has huge potential to deal with “long-standing problems of inter-familial conflict,” in the community, a leading social policy analyst has said.

The course, the first of its kind aimed specifically at Travellers, has just produced its first six graduates who now hope to work with the National Mediation Service to provide conflict resolution services to families.

They will also provide a service bodies such as local authorities or other groups who are in disagreement with individual members of the Traveller community.

The one-year course provided by the Kildare and Wicklow Education and Training Board was delivered at Maynooth University. A second course is now under way.

Caroline Nevin from Mullingar is among the six recent graduates and explains she had always believed there “must be a better way than violence” when she heard of some in her community resorting to it to settle disputes.

“For some the only way they knew was violence and talking wasn’t an option. Both parties would be too stubborn to back down and no-one would even consider mediation. But I have seen it being done and it works. It’s about building trust with the parties, that they have confidence in the mediator. A trusted third party can bring people together.”

She said while such interventions have been informal, she hoped that formally trained Traveller mediators would have the confidence of the community to “help Travellers who might have been feuding and violent to solve future conflicts” peacefully.

According to social policy analyst, Brian Harvey, the course provides a “good basis for replicating and extending. ..to other Education and Training Boards”.

“There was strong agreement [among participants] that this course was most important for the Traveller community in Ireland and held out the promise of dealing with long-standing problems of inter-familial conflict in a structured was...The potential of the course should not be underestimated.”