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Wednesday 17 September 2014

‘Not one educationally-neglected child has been helped by my going to prison’ – Jailed home school mum

Published 03/09/2014 | 14:53

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A MOTHER jailed in a dispute over homeschooling has said she wanted to show her children how to stand up for themselves.

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Monica O’Connor was speaking after being released from jail over non-payment of a fine.

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.

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

She told Joe Duffy on Radio One’s ‘Liveline’ programme:  “They came out to us two days ago, so it’s been fairly upsetting the last couple of days for stuff.

“I was brought into reception, I had my phone and personal effects taken from me, there’s a processing room and a cell.

She said she was again offered the chance to pay the fine.

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

“The driving garda said to me ‘would you like to pay the fine at this point?’ You’re giving the option, pay the fine or do the time.”

Ms O’Connor also revealed that there is still a possibility her husband, Eddie, will be arrested in relation to the non-payment of the fine.

“There’s no date arranged. Sometime between now and Christmas we fear that Eddie will be brought to the Midlands prisons.

Eddie O'Neill and Monica O'Connor with their kids Oran (13) and Elva (10) at their home near Tullow Co. Carlow
Eddie O'Neill and Monica O'Connor with their kids Oran (13) and Elva (10) at their home near Tullow Co. Carlow

She said she hoped that her arrest would teach her children how to stand up for themselves.

“I hope my children learn today, what you do when someone comes along and says ‘you have to do this or else’. Not one educationally neglected child has been helped by my going to prison today”

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

Ms O’Connor explained that her family have been assessed for fostering and found to be suitable.

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

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’.

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