Expectant mother jailed for fine debt
A MOTHER who will give birth to her ninth child in the next month is locked up in jail today for failing to pay an outstanding debt and litter fine.
Heavily pregnant Jean Kelly, of Clarina Avenue, Ballinacurra Weston, Limerick went into Limerick Prison this week just after she returned from a sun holiday in Spain.
Ms Kelly, who is from the southside of Limerick city, is due to be released from the prison this weekend after she completes a five day prison sentence for an offence committed under the Litter Pollution Act last year.
It is believed she committed the offence in January 2006.
She also appeared before Limerick District Court after she failed to repay a credit union loan.
Littering is a public offence and automatically receives an on the spot fine of ?125. This can be increased to a penalty of ?3,000.
Ms Kelly presented herself at the gates of Limerick Prison on Monday after a committal warrant was issued in recent weeks.
When gardai contacted Ms Kelly in order to execute the warrant, she told them she would serve the jail sentence as it would eliminate her debt.
She has spent the entire week in prison with the 20 other female inmates of the jail. She is not eligible for early release as she must serve the full sentence for an unpaid debt.
Fianna Fail candidate for Limerick East, Councillor Noreen Ryan said the jailing of the mother of eight was inappropriate.
"The whole case brings to public attention the way the courts deal with the matter of financial debt and fines. The question I ask is it right to imprison a pregnant woman and take her way from her young family," asked Mrs Ryan.
Ms Ryan has called for "a Naomi Campbell New York style community service approach" to be taken here in such cases.