Judge adjourns Galway truancy case


A District Court Judge has warned a 15-year-old boy who persistently skips school that his parents will take turns going in and out of prison if he does not attend school for the next month.

At Galway District Court yesterday, Judge Alan Mitchell heard evidence from an education welfare officer with the National Education Welfare Board that the boy had missed 91 school days out of 114 this year alone and had a long history of truancy.

Hearing the boy, who comes from a Traveller family, did not want to go back to school even though he had been made aware his parents could be jailed for a month, Judge Mitchell invited him to decide which of his parents should go to prison for his non-attendance at school, and he gave the boy 24 hours to reach his decision.

In court today, Judge Mitchell said he had given the boy time to decide which parent should go to prison and he now wanted his decision.

Defence solicitor Valerie Corcoran said that while she understood the court’s sentiments she was not permitting the child to address the court because of his age.

She said he did not want either of his parents to go to prison and she had been assured by both the parents and the child that he would be attending school from today.

Judge Mitchell said the purpose of adjourning the matter yesterday for one day was to give the boy an opportunity to reach a clear understanding that his actions would have consequences.

Ms Corcoran said again that the child and his parents had assured her he would go to school until the end of the school year. She said he would be reaching his 16th birthday towards the end of term and there would be other developments then, she said.

She suggested the court should adjourn sentene and “keep a tight rein” on the matter to ensure compliance.

Addressing the parents, the judge said, their son had to learn a lesson that the law had to be obeyed. “When a person is attending school, they are learning. The lesson he has to learn is he has to obey the law,” Judge Mitchell said.

He agreed to adjourn sentencing in the matter to April 10th next, when he will be sitting in Galway again.

Judge Mitchell warned the boy and his parents that he was adjourning the matter on the basis that he attends school every day until the end of this term and for the three days after Easter break, up to when the court sits on April 10th.