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Traveller girl refuses school 'fearing the lure of drugs'

A 15-YEAR-OLD girl is refusing to go to secondary school because she is afraid of getting involved in drink and drugs like other teenage girls, a court heard.

A court heard that the teenager, a settled Traveller, has not attended school for the last two years.

A court heard the girl did not want to go to school as she was worried about losing her Traveller traditions.

Judge John Coughlan ordered the girl's parents to immediately send the girl to school, saying he would send them to jail unless they gave an undertaking to send their child to school.

The girl's parents appeared before Swords District Court accused of not sending their 15-year-old daughter to school.

Undertaking

A representative of the National Education Welfare Board told the court the child failed to attend secondary school on any of the 167 school days in 2009-2010 and was absent on all 164 school days in 2010-2011.

Defence solicitor Fiona D'Arcy claimed the girl, who is a settled Traveller, had different traditions to other teenagers, and did not want to attend school as she did not want to lose those traditions.

Ms D'Arcy also said the girl was afraid of getting involved in drink and drugs like other teenage girls.

The solicitor said the couple had a number of children, and this girl was the only one refusing to attend school.

Judge Coughlan said the issue was "black and white" and the girl had to attend school, as she is under 16 years. He said he wanted an immediate undertaking from her parents that they would send their daughter to school.

Ms D'Arcy said the couple would give that undertaking to the court. The judge also said he wanted to see a medical certificate if the girl was unfit to attend school at any stage.

The court heard the principal of the girl's school was in court and would welcome the teenager back.

Judge Coughlan adjourned the matter for one week to monitor the child's progress, warning her parents that if there was a "slip up" he'd send them to Mountjoy.

hnews@herald.ie


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