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If you don’t let the children go to school, Courts in Ireland may punish you

Dublin: The Irish courts are rigorously enforcing penalties against parents who fail to ensure their children attend school regularly.

This year, more than 100 parents in Ireland have received court summonses for non-attendance of their children in school. If parents fail to provide a satisfactory explanation in response to these notices, they risk potential imprisonment, and their child may be placed under the care of the Department of Social Protection.

Education Minister Norma Foley disclosed these figures in response to inquiries from Sinn Féin TD Martin Kenny. Last year, 38 individuals faced consequences for similar offences, highlighting the seriousness with which the issue was addressed.

Under current regulations, schools are mandated to notify Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, if a child is absent for more than 20 days. Parents who believe they have valid reasons for their child’s absence can provide a written explanation through the school. Last year alone, 414 attendance notices were issued concerning 268 children.

Of the cases pursued this year, 106 were resolved after court summonses were issued, with outcomes including settlements, postponements, withdrawals, and convictions. Minister Foley also noted that warrants have been issued in 11 instances.

Parents are first issued a warning notice advising of potential legal repercussions if their child’s school attendance does not improve. However, prior consultation with both parents and the child is a prerequisite before such notices can be sent.

Failure to heed warning notices may result in fines or imprisonment for up to one month, with subsequent penalties potentially accruing for each additional day of non-attendance. Minister Foley emphasised that punitive actions are a last resort, pursued only after exhausting all other avenues of cooperation and support from the Education Welfare Service and schools.

The minister underscored the government’s commitment to offering parents every opportunity to resolve attendance issues collaboratively before resorting to punitive measures.

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