Settlements totalling €1m made in Links crèche featured in RTE documentary
SETTLEMENTS totalling more than €1million have been approved by the High Court for 22 children in cases arising out of an RTÉ documentary about alleged mistreatment in a Dublin créche.
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 créche 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.
A number of the parents were in court when a barrister read out the cases and the amounts of the settlement, including details of the alleged mistreatment.
The 22 children had sued Links Creche Southside Ltd, Kinsealy, Dublin, and the Links Creche and Montessorri Ltd, with offices in Rathmines, Dublin, along with the creche owners Deirdre and Padraig Kelly of Myra Manor, Kinsealy arising out of 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 creche.
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 on to 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.
Some were shouted at during mealtimes or circle time and one had a hand slapped and was cursed at for handling food.
Most children had exhibited high levels of stress around nappy changing time, had disturbed sleep and one child when he woke up in the morning used to say " no creche".
Parents had noticed behavioural difficulties in their children which stopped as soon as they were removed from the crèche.
The court was also told that all of the children had made a good recovery and had not suffered any long lasting effects.
Mr Justice Cross said hopefully the children when they grow up will have no memeory of the alleged incidents.
Outside court, Ray Farrelly, a father of one boy, said it had been a very 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".