By advancing the development of Alternative Dispute Resolution processes (ADRs) through her academic work, and through her work as an Ombudsman and mediator, barrister Paulyn Marrinan Quinn has promoted non-adversarial systems that deliver fair outcomes in a pragmatic and economic way.
Belfast-born, she grew up in London. A member of the Bar on both islands, Paulyn gained a reputation for ‘widening access to justice’ through her work as an inaugural Ombudsman on two occasions. Her pioneering work in delivering independent administrative oversight, to shine a torch on maladministration and unfair practices, is a matter of public record.
As the first Insurance Ombudsman of the Republic of Ireland (1992–1998) Paulyn’s office provided a long-overdue option for those in dispute with their insurance providers. Her adjudications were binding on the insurers. She was a founding member of the British and Irish Ombudsman Association (BIOA) (1994) and served on its first sub-committee to establish standards of best practice for offices of Ombudsman.
In 2000, with a view to establishing a centre of excellence in the study and practice of Alternative Dispute Resolution processes and conflict resolution, Paulyn devised and founded a postgraduate diploma, Conflict & Dispute Resolution Studies, in Trinity College, Dublin University. As Director and Coordinator of that programme, she contributed as Adjunct Professor in Mediation & ADR Studies until 2014.
In 2005, under Warrant of Appointment from the President of Ireland, Paulyn took up the job as founding Ombudsman for the Defence Forces. Her growing interest in the potential of the Office of Military Ombudsman drew her to work with the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), and DCAF- Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance assisting in capacity-building for states addressing related issues, such as civilian oversight of military administrative matters and the protection of human rights of armed forces personnel.
She was invited to join the Expert Group convened by the OSCE and the ODIHR to draft a ‘Handbook on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Armed Forces Personnel’. This Handbook has been translated into several languages and serves as a point of reference in discussions about overseeing and monitoring human rights in the armed and security forces. Paulyn contributed to developing the International Conference of Ombudsman Institutions for Armed Forces Personnel (ICOAF).
Paulyn served for six years on the Board audit committee and the Executive Board of Trocaire – the Irish international aid and development agency. She was appointed an inaugural member of the Irish Financial Services Appeal Tribunal (IFSAT). She served on the Board of Attic Press, the Irish feminist publisher, and the Irish Writers’ Centre. She was Chair of the Irish Youth Theatre for the Deaf, a member of the development committee of the Glencree Centre for Reconciliation, where she conducted seminars and workshops for former combatants and youth groups, and she worked with the Irish Youth Foundation Charity.
Paulyn devised and presented an independently produced eight-part series for Channel Four Television: Generations. In 2005, she produced and presented a series for RTE Radio – Case Stated, reviewing ‘Cases that Changed People's Lives’. She had a column, over four years, in the Irish Tatler magazine, ‘Paulyn’s Law’. She has contributed to and edited legal journals, writes features and op ed articles, and has had creative work broadcast on the BBC’s Morning Story.