Mum of three to be jailed over schoolboy’s absenteeism

A mother of three is to be jailed at Limerick Women’s Prison for one month after an appeal court affirmed her conviction for failing to send her son to school.

Following several separate Limerick District Court hearings, the woman was convicted and jailed for a month over her 16-year-old son’s non-attendance.

Last year, the Limerick woman, aged 44, was warned by a judge that her son’s school attendance had to dramatically improve or she would face prison.

Child and Family agency Tusla brought a prosecution as the boy had missed 23 out of 26 school days in first term of 2014.

Attendance improved briefly but at the close of school term last year, he had more than 76% absenteeism.

The mother was subsequently convicted of breaching the Education (Welfare) Act 2000 and one month jail term was imposed last month. She immediately lodged an appeal and a stay on the prison term was imposed until the matter was brought to the Circuit Court.

However, yesterday, the woman failed to appear before the court and Muiris Gavin, solicitor for Tusla, revealed that the situation had further declined since the conviction as the boy now had a 100% absenteeism rate from school.

Tusla said that “all possible services” have been made available to the defendant and her family.

Solicitor Sarah Ryan said the mother “just can’t get her son to go to school” despite her best efforts. She said the situation is more difficult given the absence of a male figure in the household who the teenager respects.

The court heard that prosecutions in relation to the attendance of the mother’s two teenage daughters were also before the court but they had been adjourned to see if the situation could improve. The girls, who are aged 15 and 13, have both missed more than a third of all school days during the current academic year and have been late on numerous occasions.

Judge O’Donnell, on striking out the mother’s appeal, said “the child here is the biggest loser — the matter is too serious and has gone on for two long”.

The penal warrant was to issue from the district court that will legally allow gardaí arrest the mother and lodge her in Limerick Prison.


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