Friday 24 October 2014

Mum-of-six released from jail after imprisonment over home schooling dispute

Fiona Gribben

Published 03/09/2014 | 11:20

A MUM of six who was jailed today for non payment of a fine relating to not sending her children to school was released shortly before 1pm.

Speaking minutes afterwards Monica said she was still in shock as to what happened.

Monica O'Connor pictured being taken by Gardai from her home in Tullow Co. Carlow to Mountjoy Prison. Photo: Dylan Vaughan
Monica O'Connor pictured being taken by Gardai from her home in Tullow Co. Carlow to prison. Photo: Dylan Vaughan
Gardai arrive to bring Monica O'Connor to prison
Gardai arrive to bring Monica O'Connor to prison
Gardai arrive to bring Monica O'Connor to prison
Gardai arrive to bring Monica O'Connor to prison

“I’m so relieved to be out of prison so quickly but it’s only on temporary release. I just want to get home to my husband and kids.

“I never thought the situation would come to this. I have to say the gardai have been very respectful to me and my family. There are a lot of restrictions and I can be jailed at any time.

“I can’t do a lot of things while on temporary release but at least I’m out of jail now. I can’t believe the State allowed this to happen to us.”

Hearing of his wife’s release, her husband  Eddie broke down in tears with sheer relief. “I’m just so thankful she is out so quickly. But we had to stand up for our Constitutional right to educate our children at home.”

Monica O'Connor with her husband Eddie O'Neill Pic: Dylan Vaughan
Monica O'Connor with her husband Eddie O'Neill Pic: Dylan Vaughan

Monica O'Connor from Tullow, Co Carlow, was arrested by arrangement with gardaí and was transferred to the Dochas Centre at Mountjoy Prison in Dublin at 9am.

Ms O’ Connor and her husband Eddie O’ Neill were fined €2,000 by Carlow District Court in June of last year and further €1,300 in December and they were told if they did not pay the fine, they could face up to 10 days in jail.

Mr O'Neill, a secondary school teacher, and Ms O'Connor, a home birth facilitator, previously said  their constitutional right to educate their children was violated.

They have refused to pay the fine "on principle".

Gardai arrive to bring Monica O'Connor to prison
Gardai arrive to bring Monica O'Connor to prison

At 7.30am this morning Ms O’Connor was arrested at home in front of her husband and children.

A squad car took Ms O’Connor to Mountjoy Prison this morning.

The couple had been brought to court after they refused to be assessed by the National Education Welfare Board.

The couple said that they had no issue with registering their two children for home education but said it was their right to educate their children from home and they should not have to  be continuously assessed.

Maths teacher Mr O‘Neill faces 10 days in jail after his wife is released.

Video credit: Dylan Vaughan

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