Tullow parents face jail after home-schooling prosecution
Published 16/08/2014 | 00:00
A Tullow mother has vowed that she is willing to go to jail rather than pay a fine relating to not sending her children to school. Monica O'Connor and her husband Eddie O'Neill were both found guilty of failing to send two of their children to school, despite the fact that they have home-schooled six of their children, and fined €2,000.
The fine related to their children Oran (13) and Elva (10), both of whom are being taught by their mother and father, who is a fully qualified school teacher. The couple were convicted for failing to register with the National Education and Welfare Board (now Tusla), which is now a requirement of all home-schoolers, however, Mr O'Neill feels that the family's constitutional rights are being infringed.
'They wanted us to register with the board so we fit into their system,' he said. 'We don't mind registering, however, we want to register our children as being home-schooled rather than registering them as "not in school".'
Having failed to pay the fine within the past fourteen months, the Tullow couple is now facing jail and they are understood to be the first couple to face jail time over a home-schooling issue. Four warrants were issued for their arrest for refusing to pay the fine and it is expected that couple could be jailed within the next week.
Monica said that she is fully prepared for jail and has accepted it as being 'inevitable'.
'We believe that what is happening to us is an attack on the family. We feel the State is trying to police every way of life. Our lives are being put on hold because of this. We just want this to end,' she said. 'Last week I was up in Dublin with some of the children at the zoo and when I was driving up there I kept thinking to myself that the next time I will be on this road, I'll be in the back of a garda car heading to jail.'
Of the family's six children Darragh (27), Oisin (20) and Emmet (19) are all attending or have attended third level education having been home-schooled by their parents. Their youngest son Eamonn has just turned six and is only now coming under the remit of Tusla.