Irish judge Patrick Durcan took an uncompromising approach on April 6 on the third of a series of cases regarding the damage done by parents who allow their children to miss school. Durcan said in the Ennis District Court that “there is too much mollycoddling these days.”
In the third of these cases, a parent pled that his 13-year-old boy had missed school because he was sick with the flu. He stated that the boy “was very sick—we couldn’t send him to school because he couldn’t get out of bed. You had to see him the way he was.”
Durcan replied by stating, “I don’t accept that—are we talking about a serious illness? Everyone had flu. I’m sure that it was nothing unusual about the flu the child had.” He added, “A sniff or a snot—I don’t do that.”
Then, when the parents’ defense mentioned that the child’s illness was not the only issue, but that there was also a transportation issue, Durcan asked what was the distance between the child’s home and the school. The answer: ten kilometers.
Durcan responded, “When I was going to school, there were many children walking that distance to national schools, and there were many children walking to school with no footwear.”
This case came after two previous cases on the same issue. In the first of these cases, he threatened to send the father to a “boarding school for adults starting with the letter ‘j’” if his two children did not have perfect attendance from then on.
Durcan told the father, “We look to the future of this country with your children playing a big part—but they must be educated. There are going out to a big difficult world out there, and if they are not educated, they will sink and be at the bottom with a lot of difficulties. I want your children to be at the top of everything.”
In the second case, Durcan told the parents in question that he was not running “a crèche for parents.” Then he told them, “there is no point using excuses. There is severe damage being done to children—to the child that you love—I want 100 percent attendance.”