Working in the law all my professional life, I have paused, now and then, to ponder a little about our connection with it in wider aspects.
In 2005, I devised and presented a series for RTE Radio, Case Stated: Cases that Changed People's Lives, in which we reviewed some defining court cases that changed things for the better for all of us. I wrote a column in the 1980s titled 'Paulyn's Law', taking a wry look at the way things were and advocating reforms at a time when equality for women was not high on the agenda.
I have now written this little book, What Does Law Mean, Mumu? An Introduction to Law for Young People. The book shares the story of a group of friends – known as the Learners – who discover a little about the way our administrative systems are held together and justice upheld.
The book is written through a story. The style is nomadic – it is a ‘walk and talk’ – by a group of young people guided by a trusted person, called Mumu, as one thing leads to another.
There are many subjects covered – and there are many more that might have been included – but the book is not a Junior Course in Law; it is not a textbook.
It is a ‘vegetable soup’ mixture of subjects: from the symbols of justice to some differing approaches and processes used to arrive at a fair and reasonable outcome.
While the story is set in Dublin, it is not about one country: quite the opposite. The journey of discovery aims to reveal the connections of core principles, values and influences in processes that protect all societies. The Learners are nudged to think beyond borders in the pursuit of fairness, justice and peace, and to recognise the protections needed for those outcomes.
The group embarks on a tour with Mumu to hear a little about what the law does and to understand why we need it.
With the objective of nurturing curiosity and engaging the Learners in their quest, Mumu introduces them to some conventional legal systems, and also to aspects of Alternative Dispute Resolution processes (ADRs) that are non-adversarial and collaborative, and that promote consensus building.
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