Longford District Court: Woman told to send daughter to school

Judge issues Longford mother with ultimatum

Longford District Court: Woman told to send daughter to school

A Longford mother is facing prison unless she shows evidence that her daughter has a 100 per cent school attendance rate over the past two weeks.

The woman was charged with failing to send her 13-year-old daughter to school.

A representative from the Child and Family Agency said since the last court sitting, the woman's daughter missed 20 out of 29 school-going days.

That amounted to an absentee rate of 69 per cent, the court was told.

Judge Hughes was quick to respond, saying he was “getting tired” of the case.

Brid Mimnagh, defending, handed in what she said was a report from a doctor which indicated the difficulties the woman's daughter was encountering.

“Her mother believes she suffers on the higher scale of autism,” said Ms Mimnagh.

The woman, who stood beside Ms Mimnagh and another of her daughters throughout the 10-minute hearing, also addressed the court.

She said her daughter, who is currently on the roll books at a school in Longford, had been experiencing difficulties for some time.

“When she was in (another school), the teachers believed she suffered from autism,” she said, pausing to reveal her attempts to secure a referral for her daughter to see a specialist.

In a note read out by Ms Mimnagh, which she said had been written by the woman, the court was told her daughter was not coping well with school life.

“She has very short concentration and can’t stay in any one place for any length of time.

“(She) doesn’t know how to deal with sadness and is hurting herself a lot.

“She suffers a lot. She doesn’t talk about the sadness,” said Ms Mimnagh.

However, the representative from the Child and Family Agency played down those claims.

“She presented with none of these difficulties in school,” said the spokeswoman.

Judge Hughes soon interjected, saying the evidence presented by the defendent was not credible.

“Ms Mimnagh, I am sending your client to prison,” he told the solicitor.

In her attempts to adjourn the case for a final time, Ms Mimnagh promised to write to the woman's GP seeking an “urgent” referral for her daughter.

But Judge Hughes said he would not stand for “taking the tourist's route” any longer, saying the case had shown little, if any, progression over the past six months.

“This was first presented to the court in December 2015. What has happened in that six months? Nothing whatsoever has happened.”

Wiping back tears as she began to sob, the woman said she was doing her level best to address her daughter’s lack of school attendance.

“You are going to have to do better or I will send you to Mountjoy,” he replied, as he warned the woman of what was required of her.

“I am adjourning this for two weeks,” he said.

“That is 10 days of school and she (daughter) is to attend 100 per cent .”

Judge Hughes added that if the woman failed to heed the court’s warning she was facing into to a stint behind bars.

“Every day she (daughter) misses at school is a day lost,” he said.

“I am not sure she is getting the proper discipline in the home she resides in,” the judge stated.

“That wouldn’t be acceptable to most other parents in this county.

“They would put discipline in them.

“Either shape up or ship out.”

The case is set to come before Longford District Court again next Tuesday, May 24.