Thursday 24 August 2017

Crèche in RTÉ exposé pays €1m in settlements

Jennifer Cottrell, mother of one of the children involved. Photo: Courts Collins
Jennifer Cottrell, mother of one of the children involved. Photo: Courts Collins

Tim Healy

Settlements totalling more than €1m have been approved by the High Court for 22 children in cases arising out of an RTÉ documentary about alleged mistreatment in a Dublin crèche.

Payouts of between €40,000 and €75,000 each were approved by Mr Justice Kevin Cross for the children, some of whom featured in the footage shown in the 'Breach of Trust' documentary in May 2013 about the Links Abington crèche in Malahide.

The court was also told separate actions by the parents of the children who had sued for nervous shock had been settled on undisclosed terms.

The 22 children had sued Links Crèche Southside Ltd, Kinsealy, Dublin, and the Links Creche and Montessori Ltd, with offices in Rathmines, Dublin, along with the crèche owners Deirdre and Padraig Kelly of Myra Manor, Kinsealy, over alleged mistreatment at the Links Abington facility.

The defendants had filed a full defence and denied the incidents recorded in the footage were representative of the level of care throughout the crèche.

The settlements were without admission of liability.

Senior counsel Sasha Gayer told the court most of the children were under three years of age, pre-verbal and had attended the 'wobbler room' at the Malahide crèche.

There were three categories of cases. The first was where children had been assaulted or shouted at aggressively or mistreated in some way. The incidents viewed in the footage came within the legal definition of assault, counsel said. Six children in this category received €75,000 each.

In one case, a boy who had mobility issues was roughly grabbed and slammed onto a mat when he tried to crawl away during "circle time". Another toddler was roughly picked up and dropped down again on a sleeping mat.

Those in the second category could be seen in the footage witnessing or sitting beside their peers while they were being assaulted or shouted at.

The third category included children who were present but not in the footage and, it was claimed, were treated in an erratic and inconsistent environment.

Mr Justice Cross said hopefully the children when they grow up will have no memory of the alleged incidents.

Outside court, Ray Farrelly, a father of one boy, said it had been a tough three years for the families and for the children.

"We didn't take this action lightly. We did it with a mind to protect our children, but at the same time trying to make sure this didn't ever happen again."

He added the children are now "thankfully doing okay".

Irish Independent

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