Nicholas Kearns, the President of the High Court, was presiding over an intractable dispute between neighbours yesterday - over a boundary hedge and laneway - when the judge was quietly informed that another neighbours' dispute had been revived.
The dispute in question is the longstanding conflict between the Irish and British governments over the treatment of the so-called 'Hooded Men'.
In 1971, during their interrogation at Ballykelly British Army base in Derry, 14 men were subjected to five sensory deprivation techniques, including wall standing, hooding, subjection to noise, sleep deprivation and deprivation of food and drink.
As the Troubles took hold, the Irish Government claimed a boundary had been crossed and complained, to the European Commission and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), that the enhanced interrogation techniques deployed by its closest neighbour were torture.
The decision to sue Britain, given the political context at that turbulent time, was - as I stressed on these pages last week - both brave and necessary.
In 1978, the Strasbourg-based court found that the techniques, used in combination for a long period, fell into the category of inhuman treatment. But, in a controversial ruling that has haunted that institution's jurisprudential reputation ever since, the court said they did not amount to torture, since "they did not occasion suffering of the particular intensity and cruelty implied by the word torture."
It is difficult for me to comprehend, then or now, how anybody could form a view that the techniques were anything other than torture.
But that was then; it was a relatively young court and -according to the men - the court was duped by the British and not informed that the British government had itself described the techniques as torture.
It is hard to capture, in words, the long pall cast by the Hooded Men ruling or indeed the general policy of internment in Northern Ireland.
The non-torture ruling did not just devastate the lives of the men, some now dead - the survivors were broken by the post-traumatic stress they carried throughout their lives.
The judgment did not just cast a dark shadow over British-Irish relations - it had shocking consequences beyond these islands.
The cry of the emergency is frequently raised by politicians to justify conduct unbecoming, conduct no self-respecting democracy would otherwise tolerate.
To the world's eternal shame, the Hooded Men ruling has been deployed in other conflicts, by other democracies, to justify identical or similar interrogation techniques such as the wholly discredited art of waterboarding.
The Hooded Men ruling was relied upon by the US Government when it advised the CIA that its plans to use the same advanced interrogation techniques on detainees was not torture because Europe's top human rights court said so.
And so the comforting cloak of legality and the proposition of the lesser evil was used to justify the enhanced interrogation of detainees as far away as Bagram, Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib,
Israel also used the Hooded Men ruling to justifying that state's use of certain interrogation methods.
The Irish Government, therefore, deserves to be applauded for its brave - and yes, necessary - decision to re-open the Hooded Men ruling, no doubt upsetting its neighbour in the process.
The decision to seek a review comes at a highly sensitive time for North/South relations and may place a strain on the genuine friendships forged in recent years between the British and Irish governments, with our respective heads of state being warmly welcomed by their once warring neighbours.
On the basis of new material uncovered by RTE and the Pat Finucane Centre, the Government will tell the ECHR that the ill-treatment suffered by the Hooded Men should be recognised as torture.
Announcing the decision, Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan said the decision to review the Hooded Men case had not been taken lightly: in fact, it went down to the wire.
But perhaps Mr Flanagan and his colleagues at Cabinet knew that sometimes politics is not enough and it would have been a grave injustice to shut down the men's last hope of placing trust in the rule of law.
The ECHR, which in recent years has decried some of the CIA's tactics, naming them as torture, may not accede to the request to re-open the case.
But if it does, it will offer Ireland - and the world - a chance to set the record straight.