Mother says she can’t stop girl (15) absconding to get married

‘It is Traveller culture. Her ambition in life is to meet a boy and get married’

The mother said her daughter had told her she was booked to get married on July 23rd next in the UK, the day she celebrates her 16th birthday.

The mother said her daughter had told her she was booked to get married on July 23rd next in the UK, the day she celebrates her 16th birthday.

 

A 15-year-old Co Clare girl has left school and her home to get married to a “young lad” in Britain, a court was told yesterday.

The girl’s mother told Ennis District Court that her daughter went missing earlier this summer and was now in the UK with the boy to whom she had become engaged.

Giving sworn evidence, the mother said her daughter had told her she was booked to get married on July 23rd next, the day she celebrates her 16th birthday.

The girl’s parents were in court answering charges taken against them by the Child and Family Agency arising from for the girl’s poor school attendance prior to her absconding in the UK.

The settled Traveller girl had an absentee rate of 41 per cent between October 2016 and February of this year, and the absentee rate improved to 17 per cent for the remainder of the girl’s second year in secondary school, according to the agency.

Solicitor for the agency, Kevin Sherry, said the girl has missed 32 days out of the 32 days in the current school year as she had absconded and was living with a brother in the UK. The teen’s mother said her daughter, who cannot be identified because of her age, didn’t want to come back to school in Ireland.

“If she comes back and goes to school she is afraid that she will be left sitting and he could meet someone else and her life could be destroyed,” she said.

“She is after running away. It is Traveller culture. We have to go with it. It is not what we want. It is what she wants. I was married young myself. Her sisters were married at 16. We were hoping that she would be different. She has tried everything to keep us happy but she wasn’t happy.”

The parent’s, Daragh Hassett, told Judge Patrick Durcan: “Her ambition in life is to meet a boy and get married and, judge, she has told you that herself when she you met before.”

Mr Hassett said it wasn’t a case that the girl was bullied at school or that she was difficult. He said: “She just didn’t like school and wants to get married.”

The girl is not attending school in the UK either.

Risk of jail

Judge Durcan said that both parents are at risk of being sent to jail when he gives sentence in the case.

The mother said: “My daughter is refusing to come home. She wants to be beside the boy. I know it is wrong. We are not forcing her to do this. It is not a made marriage.”

Describing her daughter as “a mature young lady”, the mother said: “It is what she wants and we have to go with it.”

Mr Hassett said the family had six other kids and there was never an issue concerning their school attendance record. Judge Durcan told the girl’s mother that the evidence from the CFA was that she hasn’t played her role fully in persuading her daughter to go to school.

In reply, the mother said: “We have tried our best.”

Judge Durcan said that he would pass sentence in two weeks.