CAIN Web Service

EMU Promoting School

- Visit to Aras an Uachtarain

[EMU Promoting School Project - Home Page]

Text: Lorraine Heffernan Photos: Dessie Hasson and Allen Kennedy

EMU Promoting School Project's visit to Aras an Uachtarain,
Home to the former Irish President Mary Robinson

On the 26th September 1996, the EMU Promoting School Project, teachers and children were invited by Mary Robinson, then President of Ireland, to visit her state home in Aras an Uachtarain, Dublin. There twenty-one children from four primary schools, demonstrated to the former President how mediation can solve conflicts of any scale or magnitude, and find an alternative outcome to disputes. After Introductions to the President were made, she was presented with a bouquet of flowers, a mediator's hat which the children wear during official mediation duty in the playground, a set of mediator's guidelines and a collection of pogs, the craze of all ten year olds at the time. Next, President Robinson sat and watched as the children engaged in a role play and began to mediate between the two parties at dispute. The mediation ground rules were set out and each disputant in turn was asked to tell each side of the story. The President was very impressed with the children's listening skills and the way each mediator was able to feedback the information gathered in an impartial manner which satisfied each party at conflict. Mary Robinson realised the full potential and relevance of mediation not just in the school environment, but also in the community setting as well as the international stage.

After the mediation role play, the former President engaged the whole group of children in an open discussion. At this stage she asked detailed questions about the mediation services that have been set up in the four schools. She asked about the location where peer mediation was carried out and one school from Derry indicated that empty class rooms and the staff room had in the past provided the venue. The President, who was seated in a chair circled by the group of children, kept the conversation flowing while stimulating answers from the children of each of the four schools. Meanwhile the teachers stood back and were impressed by the articulate fashion the pupils responded to the questions posed.

Mary Robinson was delighted to witness the practice of peer mediation among youths, as she has had a long standing interest in the promotion of Education for Mutual Understanding. President Robinson complimented the children on their mediation skills and noted how the children's self esteem and confidence have both increased from the implementation of the project. Overall the day was very beneficial and increased awareness of the attributes peer mediation has to offer.

EMU Promoting School Project - Home Page

© 1997 EMU Promoting School Project

Last Modified by Dr Martin Melaugh :

Back to the top of this page