Bid to quash conviction on non-school attendance fails

Dan and Maureen Arnold from Fermoy, Co Cork. Pic: Courtpix

A couple’s bid to quash the conviction they received at a lower court arising out of their teenage daughter’s non attendance at secondary school has been dismissed by the High Court.

Dan and Maureen Arnold were convicted at Fermoy District Court last April of an offence contrary to the 2000 Education and Welfare Act, that they contravened a lawful requirement under a school attendance notice by failing to cause their daughter to attend Coláiste an Chraoibhín in Fermoy.

The conviction was imposed on April 10, 2015, by Judge Aeneas McCarthy.

The Arnolds, of Regina Pio, Bartlemy, Fermoy, Co Cork, who were also fined, denied the charge. They brought judicial review proceedings against the Child and Family Agency (CFA) seeking to have the conviction, which they claim is unfair and in breach of their constitutional rights as a family, quashed. They also sought an order for damages.

Representing the couple, Mr Arnold said the convictions were flawed on several grounds including that the CFA had failed to produce any evidence to support its accusations. The CFA, it was further alleged, had no legal basis for the issuance of a school attendance notice.

He also claimed the summons he and his wife received in respect of the charge was null and void.

Joe Jeffers, for the CFA, opposed the application and counsel argued there was insufficient evidence to allow the couple proceed with their action.

After considering submissions from both sides, Mr Justice Donald Binchy dismissed all grounds of the action. From the evidence before the court, the judge said he was satisfied the couple had not made an arguable case that their application was likely to succeed at a full hearing.

Following the ruling, Mr Arnold said he would appeal the decision.

Mr Justice Binchy did not impose any restrictions on reporting of the case in the media after being informed by Mr Arnold he and his wife wanted to be named as they had previously been identified in reports concerning their conviction.


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