HomeNews11 year-old Limerick boy has only been in school for less than...

11 year-old Limerick boy has only been in school for less than a year 

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AN 11 year-old who has only been to school for less than a year in his life is missing school again, despite a court warning that his mother would be jailed resulting in him being taken into care.

During a case in Kilmallock District Court against a 44-year-old woman who admitted failing to ensure that her child attended school, Judge Patricia Harney was told that the boy had been in school for just 180 days during his 11 years.

At a previous sitting of the court, Judge Harney ordered that the boy, who cannot be identified as he is a minor, be enrolled in the nearest county Limerick school and attend there every day.

But when the case came back before her for review on Tuesday, she was told that since November of last year the child had been in school for 17 days and missed three.

An education and welfare officer gave evidence that while his mother had not produced a doctor’s certificate, she had informed the school that he was ill.

The school is just one killometer from the child’s home, the witness said.

When the mother took the witness stand she told the judge the little boy and his sister had “a fever and were vomiting,” but she did not take them to the doctor as her GP had retired and she currently does not have a GP.

Leaning on a crutch, the mother told Judge Harney that she suffers from chronic pain following a car accident.

She said she fled her previous home in another county because she feared for her life from the little boy’s father. “He threatened to kill him – to behead him,” she said.

Judge Harney said she is “very exercised about this case. If this child does not get a basic education, he will not be able to avail of secondary schooling and he will then for ever be discriminated against. I’m like a dog with a bone with this.”

Dermot O’Donovan for the Child and Family Agency told the court that the next step, if there are further unexplained school absences, would be to seek a Child Protection Order.

The judge heard that the woman had been offered the services of Meitheal, an agency which has oversight of a range of social services which might help her with her many difficulties.

Judge Harney said that she wanted to see engagement with that service. “If a Child Protection Order is granted, that is the next step in the child being taken from you and put into care. It’s not something you want to do to a child but I am putting you on notice that that is what will happen,” she told the mother.

Judge Harney approved dates for a series of meetings between the social services and the mother and ordered that she attend them or face being brought back to court on the outstanding conviction.

She adjourned the case to April 28 for review.

Bernie English
Bernie Englishhttp://www.limerickpost.ie
Bernie English has been working as a journalist in national and local media for more than thirty years. She worked as a staff journalist with the Irish Press and Evening Press before moving to Clare. She has worked as a freelance for all of the national newspaper titles and a staff journalist in Limerick, helping to launch the Limerick edition of The Evening Echo. Bernie was involved in the launch of The Clare People where she was responsible for business and industry news.
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