herald

Thursday 13 December 2018

State bullied me over a €2k fine, says jailed mum

Mum-of-six Monica O'Connor, who spent four hours in prison yesterday, has accused the State of bullying.

Ms O'Connor was taken by gardai from her home in Tullow, Co Carlow to the Dochas Centre in Mountjoy for refusing to pay a €2,000 fine imposed by Carlow District Court.

The fine relates to herself and her husband refusing to allow a State assessment to determine if they are suitable for home schooling.

"I hope my children learn today what you do when a bully comes along," said the 47-year-old on her release from jail.

Monica's husband Eddie (49), a maths teacher, also faces a similar jail term of 10 days for the same offence.

The mother said she had been willing to go to jail rather than pay the fine to show her children how to stand up to bullying.

Her stand, she added, was a point of principle as she had no problem registering to home school but objected to the assessment and to being continually monitored.

"For me it's a form of bullying," she said.

Monica was arrested at the family's rural home yesterday morning at 7.20am in front of four of the couple's six children.

refused

Prior to her arrest she asserted: "We feel the State are trying to police every way of life.

"Our lives are being put on hold because of this since last year. We just want this to end."

The couple were summonsed last year after they refused to be assessed by the former National Education Welfare Board (NEWB) which is now Tusla.

Monica added that she expected her husband would also be taken to the Midlands prison for the offence some time in the next few months .

She hoped, however, that "sense will prevail".

csheehy@herald.ie

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