Monica and Eddie are amazing people. They work hard and do good. They have raised 6 children of their own and fostered others. They have successfully home-schooled their children.
Now, when the Irish state asked them to fill in forms, they refused. Partly because it was an unnecessary bureaucratic pain – everyone knew their exemplary track record, including the state departments responsible for children and education. It was also because it is everyone’s human right to bring up their own children, a right actually enshrined in the Irish Constitution.
So the state wasted even more resources and sent Monica to jail! Monica was released and she, Eddie and one of their children, Elva, were interviewed the next day on TV3. I liked what Elva had to say about the state …
(Sadly TV3 doesn’t make embedding available.)
Here’s the story from the Irish Mirror
“It was quite harrowing.” Homeschool mum on being caged alongside killers including the Scissor Sisters at Mountjoy Prison
A mum who ignored a fine for not sending her children to school was caged yesterday alongside the Scissor Sisters and Catherine Nevin.
Monica O’Connor, 46, was locked in a cell on her own at the Dochas women’s prison in Mountjoy. She said: “It’s a harrowing experience.”
Husband Eddie also faces jail for teaching their kids at home but not being assessed by education chiefs.
The 46-year-old and her husband, maths teacher Eddie O’Neill, have always home-schooled their children in Tullow, Co Carlow.
But they flouted the law by refusing to be assessed as home educators.
The pair were found guilty of not sending son Oran, 13, and 10-year-old daughter Elva to the local school since November 2012.
In June last year, Carlow District Court fined them €2,000 and warned they would be jailed for 10 days each if they did not pay up.
Gardai came to the family’s rural two-storey home at 7.20am yesterday.
Monica arrived at 9am at Mountjoy where she was processed and placed in a cell for three hours.
After her release, Monica insisted she would not be intimidated by what she dubbed “bully” tactics.
She said: “I think people are hoping you’re so afraid of the notion of going to jail, that you will do anything else.
“It is a horrible feeling when a key is turned behind you in a door and you don’t know when it will turn again.
“If you need to go to the bathroom you have to press a call button and hope somebody responds soon.
“The key turned at 9.20am. I asked to go to the bathroom at 10.55 and was put back in the cell until about 12.20pm.
“I could hear personal circumstances of people who were being processed after me.
“That was quite harrowing. It is outside my frame of reference, the sort of lives that people were talking about.
“The whole day was so surreal. I think I will be pinching myself saying ‘did that really happen today?’
“My husband knows that he will have to go to the Midlands prison before Christmas. We don’t know if he will have to spend a night there or if he will be out like me.”
The angry mum, who has also fostered 22 children with her husband, told RTE’s Joe Duffy that she had refused to be assessed as a home educator because it is an “attack” on her parenting skills.
She claimed it is her and her husband’s right to educate their children at home and that they should not have to be continually monitored and scrutinised by the former National Education Welfare Board, now called Tusla.
Both Eddie and Monica have previously been assessed as suitable foster parents, and they have home-schooled their other children Darragh, 27, Oisin, 20, and 19-year-old Emmet.
Monica argued: “Home educating parents are going above and beyond the call of duty, and shouldn’t have to prove it, or to prove their fitness.”
Eddie said yesterday: “The State has a duty to ensure that our children are receiving a certain minimum
education but the assessors have been out to our house twice.
“They’ve seen that we are doing a good job, our three [older] children are getting their own way in the world.
“I’m a secondary school teacher, I can teach any child in the country and yet I am going to jail for teaching my own children.”
Darragh and Oisin both attended secondary school for two years and were home-schooled for the remainder of their education.
Darragh is now working in a golf bar in Hawaii, while Oisin is studying Drama in Dublin.
Emmet, who was fully home-schooled, is in DIT studying for a degree in music.