Mother-of-six released after not paying fine for failing to register children for education process

Wednesday 03 September 2014 22.50
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Monica O'Connor was arrested by arrangement with gardaí
Monica O'Connor was arrested by arrangement with gardaí
Eddie O'Neill and Monica O'Connor were fined €2,000 in June of last year
Eddie O'Neill and Monica O'Connor were fined €2,000 in June of last year

A mother-of-six, who does not want to register her children in the education process and has schooled them all at home, has been released after being brought to Mountjoy Prison for not paying a fine.

Monica O'Connor from Tullow, Co Carlow, was arrested by arrangement with gardaí.

Herself and her husband Eddie O'Neill were both found guilty of not registering two of their children for home schooling and subsequent assessment. 

For home schooling to be approved, children must be registered with the Education Welfare Board and it is an offence not to complete this registration process.

The couple were fined €2,000 by Carlow District Court in June of last year but were told if they did not pay the fine, they could face up to ten days in jail. 

Warrants were issued for their arrest for not paying the fine after they refused on principle to pay the money.

This morning, Ms O'Connor was arrested and jailed.

She did not resist arrest.

The couple were brought to court last year after they refused to be assessed by the National Education Welfare Board, now known as Tusla. 

The pair said they had no issue with registering their two children for home education but claim it is their right to educate their children at home and that they should not have to be continually monitored.

Mr O'Neill, who is a secondary school maths teacher, also faces jail. 

Both were due to be jailed for ten days' each, five days for their 13-year-old son and five for their 10-year-old daughter.

Their children were present this morning as their mother was taken away in the squad car.

It is believed they are the first people to be jailed over the home schooling registration process.

Ms O'Connor told a local reporter as she was being taken away to the Dóchas Centre at Mountjoy that she was not happy about going to jail but that it was inevitable.

The couple have fostered 22 children at their home since 2002.