A LITANY of failures and serious breaches of regulations came to light at the Sunny Days Creche in Manulla, Co Mayo, including fire doors blocked by beds, children opening the creche door to strangers, and being ignored as they cried inconsolably.
Despite having an advanced system which saw parents use a fingerprint scan to gain entry, on one occasion a schoolchild opened the door for HSE Inspector Breda Cloney.
Ms Cloney also found a preschool child unattended in a hall.
"I could have been anybody but I was let in by a child who didn't know who I was and a child was allowed to wander around alone," she said.
During the inspection, staff also failed to give the children anything to drink with their lunch.
"When I asked them about it they said they had forgotten," she told the court.
This was disputed by the owner Marie McGrath who insisted water was always available for the children.
The court also heard that after being told to use porridge oats for sensory play, Ms McGrath instead bought horse oats.
"There are pesticides in them and rodents run across them – and I was horrified seeing the children playing with them," said Ms Cloney.
Concerns were also raised about the lack of toys and books. Staff informed Ms Cloney that the children were often not able to play outside behind the premises as it was too slippy but would instead be taken out to the front – to an unfenced area beside an open road.