Judge places threat of imprisonment on mother over her daughters' absence from school

By Gordon Deegan

A judge today imposed a 14-day prison term on a mother-of-three over her failure to get her two daughters to school.

At Ennis District Court, Judge Patrick Durcan told the mother that the committal warrant for her 14-day imprisonment will only be signed on November 7 if there are any further school absences by her two girls before that date.

Judge Durcan told the woman: “I am giving you the key to Limerick’s women prison and it is a matter for you to decide if you want to use it or not.”

Addressing solicitor for the mother, Shíofra Hassett, Judge Durcan said that up until now, the mother “has been pushing TUSLA to the brink - now the court is pushing your client to the brink”.

Judge Durcan said that the woman will be jailed on November 7 “if I don’t have 100% co-operation. Not two days missed. I want no day missed.”

Judge Durcan said that the mother “has to grow up”.

Solicitor for TUSLA, Kevin Sherry, said that the mother has ignored court warnings “and this is a source of continuing frustration for the school and for my client”.

Mr Sherry said that his clients are extremely frustrated at the lack of the mother getting the message stating that “she is pushing the boundaries”.

He said that the mother is well aware of her obligations and that the mother’s daughters have shown an improvement in their attendance, but not sufficient to his client’s liking.

The case was first brought before the court in July after the Co. Clare woman’s 13-year-old daughter had 53 absent days in the last school term before the summer holidays and her sister did not go to school at all last year.

The 13-year-old had missed 46 school days and a further seven days were recorded as poor punctuality and leaving school early.

Mr Sherry told the court previously there was no underlying medical reasons or otherwise for such a significant level of absenteeism.

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