Thursday 5 December 2019

Judge sets new PlayStation rules for siblings whose truancy led them to court

Two people playing on a Playstation 4. Stock image
Two people playing on a Playstation 4. Stock image

Tom Tuite

TWO teenage truants whose mother faced a possible jail sentence after they missed "chunks” of school have agreed to a change of rules about their PlayStation after a meeting with a judge.

The pair had to come to the school attendance prosecution which continued at Dublin District Court today.

Their mother is accused of breaking the Education (Welfare) Act by not complying with official warnings about her children's school attendance.

School attendance notices were sent in October 2017 and November last year in relation to her son and daughter, who are in their mid-teens.

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On October 31 last, defence solicitor Emer O’Sullivan told the court the south Dublin woman was a "very caring mother and really does her best" and had "two lovely kids".

She is being prosecuted by the Child and Family Agency (CFA).

Ms O’Sullivan had said the teens were not taking the matter seriously. She suggested a meeting the judge would help.

"I would frighten the bejaysus out of them,” the judge had said.

"They might need that," the solicitor replied.

The court had heard that there had been no improvement in the school attendance records of the boy and girl.

Education and welfare officers were doing their best, but the brother and sister needed "an extra bit of pressure", the court was told.

Judge Anthony Halpin said that the only chance of advancement or a career was through education.

"Parents are under tremendous pressure, a lot more pressure than when I was a child, with PlayStations and video games and whatever," he said..

The prosecution agreed that huge chunks of school days had been missed, particularly by one of the siblings.

Judge Halpin agreed to the suggestion to speak directly to the pair in the company of an education and welfare officer, the defence solicitor and their mother.

Meanwhile, education officers were to continue their efforts to impress on them the importance of the case.

The siblings met the judge in private today as planned. Afterwards, when the case was called in court, the judge said: "We came out with rules, especially in relation to the PlayStation".

He said the meeting was done in a "good cop, bad cop way". The case was adjourned until a date in January to monitor progress.

The mother has not yet indicated how she will plead.

The minimum school leaving age is 16 years, or the completion of three years of post-primary education.

The penalty on first conviction is a fine of up to €1,000 and a possible one-month sentence per charge.

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