Saturday 24 February 2018

Crèche fined €1,000 after exposé, but "no fault" applies to owner

Deirdre Kelly leaving the Four Courts in Dublin yesterday
Deirdre Kelly leaving the Four Courts in Dublin yesterday
Emma Jane Hade

Emma Jane Hade

A Dublin crèche where infant children were secretly filmed being shouted at and "rough handled" by staff has been fined €1,000.

The Links Crèche and Montessori Ltd, in Malahide, Co Dublin, and its director Deirdre Kelly were before the Dublin District Court yesterday.

The company and its director had a total of 24 charges brought against them after being accused of breaking the Childcare Act and pre-school services regulations in 2013.

However, the court heard that all charges against Ms Kelly were being dropped, as well as 12 of the charges against the company.

The prosecution was brought against them by Tusla, the Child and Family Agency (CFA), after the RTÉ investigations unit programme 'A Breach of Trust' aired in 2013.

During yesterday's hearing, Judge John O'Neill was told by David McCoy, prosecution solicitor, that the eight remaining charges pertained to incidents which occurred on eight different dates across February and March in 2013.

Guilty pleas were entered by the company.

The court heard that during these dates, a toddler was "shouted at" after she soiled herself. Another child was pushed to the floor, while on a later date a child was "slammed in a chair and shouted at for trying to feed herself". Judge O'Neill was told that some of the children attending the crèche were "rough handled".

RTÉ secretly filmed the activities and at least 40 hours of footage was given to the CFA to assist with their investigations.

However, no reporters gave evidence in court yesterday and no footage was shown.

Counsel for the crèche, Justin McQuade, highlighted that the north Dublin operation received a "glowing report" after one of it's most recent inspections. And, he told the court that it was a modern, purpose-built facility.

Mr McQuade said that "99pc" of the incidents related to one particular staff member, who was employed for approximately one year but is no longer with the company.

He also said that Ms Kelly was taking the matter very seriously, and that she is a "very private lady who has been subject to a fair amount of unwanted public attention". Ms Kelly's business has been in operation for 11 years and employs 200 people.

Another of the company's crèches was also filmed as part of RTÉ's investigation but "nothing came to light". A number of parents had also written letters complimenting the care on offer in her facilities

Mr Quade said his client had offered to pay a contribution of up to €2,000 towards the prosecution costs. Judge John O'Neill said that "no fault applies to (Ms Kelly) in any shape or form".

He told the court that after taking into account a number of factors, including the "level of cooperation" provided, he was fining the company €1,000 for one charge, while taking the remaining seven into consideration. This sum must be paid within two months.

Irish Independent

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