Truancy case goes to Supreme Court

A Cork couple has pledged to bring the battle to quash the conviction they received at a lower court over their daughter’s non-attendance at secondary school to the Supreme Court after they lost at the Court of Appeal.

The Court of Appeal dismissd the appeal of Dan and Maureen Arnold and affirmed an earlier High Court decision to refuse the Fermoy couple leave to legally challenge the orders and convictions made by the District Court more than two years ago.

Mr and Mrs Arnold were convicted at Fermoy District Court in April 2015 of an offence contrary to the Education (Welfare) Act 2000, that they contravened a lawful requirement under a school attendance notice by failing to cause their daughter to attend Coláiste an Chraoibhín in Fermoy.

Judge Aeneas McCarthy fined the Arnolds, of Regina Pio, Bartlemy, Fermoy, Co Cork, €300 each and imposed a sentence of three days imprisonment in default of payment. The Arnolds denied the charge.

They brought judicial review proceedings against Tusla, the child and family agency, seeking to have the conviction, which they claim is unfair and in breach of their constitutional rights as a family, quashed.

In the High Court, Mr Justice Donald Binchy dismissed all grounds of the action. From the evidence, 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.

The three-judge Court of Appeal yesterday affirmed that High Court decision.

Outside court, Mr Arnold said his daughter was now attending college and they would attempt to bring their case to the Supreme Court.

Giving the judgement of the Court of Appeal, Mr Justice Gerard Hogan said it is not disputed that the Arnolds did not pay the fine within the eight-week period and it is accepted that, as a result, both have the immediate prospect of serving a three-day prison sentence unless the convictions are quashed.

Mr Justice Hogan said there was nothing at all to suggest the hearing before the District Court was procedurally deficient and it was clear from the summary of what transpired in the District Court the Arnolds’ procedural rights were fully protected and had not been infringed.

The issue of who pays the costs of the one-day hearing at the Court of Appeal will be decided on December 13.

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