CATHERINE O’CONNELL BIOGRAPHY
Catherine is an experienced and accredited Mediator, Restorative Dialogue Facilitator and trainer in Certified Mediation Programmes and Restorative Justice and Practice programmes. She is also a CINERGY™ Conflict Management Coach and Trainer.
From 2014 to 2020 Catherine has been a lecturer in restorative practice, mediation and conflict management coaching at the Edward Kennedy Institute for Conflict Intervention at Maynooth University. She also has been engaged in various peace building projects run by the Edward Kennedy Institute. Presently Catherine is lecturing in mediation and restorative practice in the Department of Law in Maynooth University.
Catherine provides conflict management coaching, restorative facilitation and mediation in workplace, community and family settings under the banner of her company Blossom Development. She develops bespoke training in Conflict Management and Communications skills for leaders, groups and organisations and uses the Enneagram Personality System as a tool for personal and professional development. In late 2020 she developed and delivered online training for the European Forum for Restorative Justice in Restorative Justice.
Catherine is on the management committee of Restorative Practices Ireland (RPI), an umbrella group for all restorative practitioners. She chairs RPI’s communications working group. She is also on the management committee of Facing Forward, an organisation made up of volunteers which promotes the use and need for Restorative Justice in our society. She co-presented a workshop for the International Institute of Restorative Practice Conference in May 2017. She was a researcher in the seminal collaborative research project between Facing Forward and Dr Marie Keenan entitled “Sexual Trauma and Abuse: Restorative and Transformative Possibilities”.
Catherine has written “Building Bridges”, an article about a Restorative Justice Initiative in Green Bay Maximum Security Prison Wisconsin for the ‘Journal of Mediation and Applied Conflict Analysis’ published online by Maynooth University.
In 2018, alongside her colleague Barbara Walshe, she undertook a consultation on the ‘Options and Appropriate Courses of action available to Government in relation to the site of the former Mother and Baby Home, Tuam County Galway’ (April 2018). In 2019 and 2020 and 2021, again with Barbara Walshe, she worked with survivors of Institutional abuse on the themes and issues they wished to consult with Government on to explore the, as yet unmet needs of survivors and how they could be best met. The 2019 initial report can be read here. They then facilitated a survivor led group and the Department of Education to identify means of meeting these needs. This resulted in the group presenting a proposal to the Minister for Education and her advisors in December 2020. Final solutions have yet to be identified.
In 2021, Catherine and Barbara Walshe facilitated restorative engagement with Jesuits and victims of abuse by a Jesuit priest when children (now adults in their 50’s and 60’s) were in the care of Jesuit schools to try to address the harm done.
Currently Catherine is a PhD candidate with Maynooth University exploring the extent to which using restorative approaches in an organisation can impact the conflict management practices and quality of relationships experienced by people working there.
Associations that Catherine belongs to includes Mediator’s Institute of Ireland (Certified Mediator and Trainer in Mediation), Mediation beyond Borders, The Association of Conflict Resolution, Restorative Practices Ireland, the Restorative Justice Council (U.K) and the European Forum for Restorative Justice.