Sunday 18 August 2019

Couple lose appeal in school attendance case but pledge to bring battle to Supreme Court

27/11/2017 / R-L: Maureen and Dan Arnold, of Bartelmy, Fermoy, Co. Cork pictured leaving the Four Courts today after a Court of Appeal judgement. Pic: Courts Collins
27/11/2017 / R-L: Maureen and Dan Arnold, of Bartelmy, Fermoy, Co. Cork pictured leaving the Four Courts today after a Court of Appeal judgement. Pic: Courts Collins

Tim Healy

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

The three judge Court of Appeal, dismissed 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 over two years ago.

Dan and Maureen 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 had denied the charge. They brought judicial review proceedings against 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 before the court, 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.

Today, the three judge Court of Appeal affirmed that High Court decision.

Outside court, Mr Dan Arnold said the couple will now apply to the Supreme Court for leave to appeal.

He said his daughter was now attending college but the couple would attempt to bring their case to the Supreme Court.

Giving the judgement of the Court of Appeal today, Mr Justice Gerard Hogan said it is not disputed 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.

Mr Justice Hogan, who was sitting with Ms Justice Mary Finlay Geoghegan and Mr Justice Michael  Peart  also said the Arnolds had not established any arguable ground by reference to which the constitutionality of the Education (Welfare) Act 2000 might be challenged by them.

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

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