A CHILDCARE worker fired from a creche for "violently" manhandling a toddler continued working there for two days after the alleged assault took place.
Kim Miskella was fired from Tir Na Nog Creche and Montessori in Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin, for gross misconduct after she was accused of manhandling a two-year old boy.
Creche owner Patricia Keane told an Employment Appeals Tribunal she saw Ms Miskella, who had worked as a childcare assistant there for four years, pick up a two-year-old boy "very violently" on May 1, 2012.
She said she then saw her "slamming him on to a chair and then pushing him very violently towards the table".
"I've never witnessed anything like that in all my years of childcare," she said.
She told the tribunal she was shocked and ordered Ms Miskella to her office, where she did not respond to questions about what happened.
Ms Miskella said she did not hurt the toddler. She said the toddler was messing on his chair and he slipped off and fell on his bottom.
She said she picked him back up gently, and put him back on the chair and said to the child: "That's what you get for messing."
She said she was in shock after Ms Keane accused her of abuse.
"I didn't do anything wrong. I asked why are you doing this? She refused to listen to me about what happened in the room."
Ms Keane told the tribunal she did not fire Ms Miskella immediately because she needed to talk to the correct people. She informed the child's parents about the incident on the day Ms Miskella was let go, but could not recall when she informed the HSE about the incident. She said in the meantime she made sure Ms Miskella was not left alone with children.
Arising from the complaint Ms Miskella was investigated by the HSE who spoke to her three-year-old child's doctor and schoolteacher. She said since she was fired she has applied for 15 to 20 jobs with only two replies.
Counsel for Ms Miskella said proper procedures had not been put in place.
She said had the incident been as severe as Ms Keane alleged she should have called the gardai and the child's parents immediately.
She put it to Ms Keane that she considered herself judge, jury and executioner, to which Ms Keane replied: "When it comes to hurting a child, yes."
Counsel for the creche said Ms Keane had "no reason to make up what she saw" and said her duty was to safeguard the health and safety and welfare for children under her care.
The tribunal will make its determination in a couple of weeks.
By Fiona Ellis