‘There is too much mollycoddling these days’ says judge

District court judge threatened to send father to jail if school attendance record wasn’t 100 per cent

The child’s father  said  his 13-year-old boy “was very sick - we couldn’t send him to school because he couldn’t get out of bed. You had to see him the way he was”.

The child’s father said his 13-year-old boy “was very sick - we couldn’t send him to school because he couldn’t get out of bed. You had to see him the way he was”.

 

A district court judge has said “there is too much mollycoddling these days” after hearing evidence of children being persistently absent from school.

In two separate cases at Ennis District Court on Friday, Judge Patrick Durcan issued jail warnings to parents if there isn’t 100 per cent school attendance by their children over the next two weeks.

In one case, Judge Durcan told a father he would be sending him to a boarding school for adults starting with the letter ‘j’ if there is not a perfect attendance record by his two children.

In the other case where he issued a jail warning to parents, Judge Durcan said he wasn’t running “a creche for parents”.

In the prosecutions being taken by the Child and Family Agency (CFA) against parents of children with poor school attendance records, Judge Durcan told a parent in a third case that he doesn’t do “a sniff or a snot” when rejecting a plea that a child had missed school due to the recent flu outbreak.

“There is too much mollycoddling these days,” the judge said.

Solicitor for the CFA, Dermot O’Donovan said the child’s school attendance record recently had suffered a significant relapse due to the outbreak of influenza across the country “and we accept that”.

In reply, Judge Durcan said: “I don’t accept that - are we talking about a serious illness? Everyone had flu. I’m sure that it was nothing unusual about the flu the child had.” He added: “A sniff or a snot - I don’t do that.”

The child’s father then intervened to state his 13-year-old boy “was very sick - we couldn’t send him to school because he couldn’t get out of bed. You had to see him the way he was”.

Solicitor for the parents, Stiofán Fitzpatrick said there was also a transport issue.

Judge Durcan asked how far the school is from the teen’s home and Mr Fitzpatrick replied: “Ten kilometres.”

In response, Judge Durcan said: “When I was going to school, there were many children walking that distance to national schools and there were many children walking to school with no footwear.”

The father replied that it would be too dangerous to ask his child to walk to school as it involves getting across a busy main road.

Mr Fitzpatrick said the school transport has been rectified and Judge Durcan told him he wanted school attendance to improve before adjourning the case for two weeks.