A FORMER GMIT student faces jail if she attends lectures in the Castlebar campus after a High Court judge ordered she was not to attend any classes.
Anna Marie Flanagan, a mature student, failed her first year in a nursing degree course, but despite this, she began attending second-year classes and lectures. In May 2011, GMIT obtained a High Court injunction restraining Ms Flanagan from attending nursing lectures or classes at GMIT’s Castlebar campus.
However, this semester, Ms Flanagan of Kilmucklin, Tullamore, Co Offaly, returned to the lectures. She became disruptive and refused to leave, and was arrested by gardaí on September 13, at 11.15am. She appeared before Judge Mary Devins at Achill District Court later that morning, charged with failure to comply with an order and with threatening, insulting or abusive behaviour.
However, Ms Flanagan successfully claimed that she was falsely arrested because the High Court order had expired at the start of the 2012/2013 academic year. She said she had complied with the order, which was issued by Judge Mary Laffoy.
After looking at the order, Judge Mary Devins commented that it seemed Ms Flanagan did nothing wrong. Judge Devins said there seemed to have been an overreaction from the authorities and that ‘on the face of it’, the suspension was lifted at the commencement of the 2012/2013 year. She added that until she gets concrete proof such as a letter signed by the registrar saying Ms Flanagan was not allowed into the college, she was not properly before the court and struck out the charges.
Ms Flanagan claimed she was the victim of a ‘orchestrated campaign’ against her due to the closure of her mother’s nursing home. Ms Flanagan’s mother, Maureen Flanagan, ran Upton House nursing home in Clara, Co Offaly, which was was closed by the HSE in 2010 after it was found that there was a risk of the life, or a serious risk to the health or welfare, of 13 residents there.
Last Thursday, legal representatives for GMIT brought a motion before the High Court seeking to have Ms Flanagan brought before the court arising out of her alleged contempt of the orders against her. They said her presence at the lectures were ‘quite disruptive’ to other students.
Mr Justice Kevin Cross said he was satisfied to make an order directing that Ms Flanagan be arrested by the Gardaí and brought before the court arising out of her alleged failure to stop attending lectures or any classwork given as part of the degree court.