Saturday 23 June 2018

Creche at centre of RTE's Prime Time exposé makes court apology to two former workers in defamation settlement

Creche owner Deirdre Kelly
Creche owner Deirdre Kelly

An apology on behalf of Links crèche company and its owner has been read at the High Court to two childcare workers under a settlement of their actions for defamation.

In the apology, it was accepted the defendants' suspension and dismissal of Sandra Kavanagh, Brookwood Glen, Artane, Dublin,  and Lisa Craddock Hawthorn Park, Forrest Park, Swords, Co Dublin, following an RTE Prime Time Investigates programme in May 2013, was "unfair".

"We now unreservedly acknowledge that both Sandra Kavanagh and Lisa Craddock were hardworking and dedicated employees and diligently carried out their  duties as members of the childcare profession," the apology said.

The defendants, it added, "fully appreciate the profound damage" inflicted on both plaintiffs “for which we unreservedly apologise".

"It is now our earnest wish to redress this damage so that both Sandra Kavanagh and Lisa Craddock's reputations are restored to good standing."

The statement concluded with a reiteration of the apology and a statement "appropriate redress" had been made to both plaintiffs.

In separate actions, both women sued Deirdre Kelly, owner of The Links Creche and Montessori Ltd, along with that company, arising from a statement issued on behalf of the creche to the media following an RTE Prime Time Investigates programme, entitled "Breach of Trust" broadcast on May 28th 2013.

Today, Jack Fitzgerald SC, with Miriam Reilly BL, instructed by Dore & Company solicitors, told Mr Justice Colm MacEochaidh both cases had settled on terms including an apology being read in court.

The apology said the defendants, "arising from footage shown to us and parents, and represented by it as footage to be shown in this RTE Primetime Investigates programme 'Breach of Trust', and which was subsequently broadcast in an edited form nationally on RTE television on the 28th May 2013, had caused a statement to be published in the national media".

That statement had said: "We hold the standard of professional care of children in all our crèches as a high priority, so I was extremely upset by what I saw. The behaviour of some staff members as revealed by the video extracts was wholly inappropriate, inexcusable and unacceptable. We have, as a result, put in place immediate disciplinary action resulting in the dismissal of one staff member and the suspension of three others pending a full investigation."

That statement also said it was "most regrettable that the undercover reporter did not bring to the immediate attention of senior staff and management the behaviour of the child care workers concerned. Otherwise, I can assure you, it would have been dealt with appropriately."

It continued: "In a statement last night, Links Childcare reiterated that it had been 'extremely upset at the poor performance by some staff members in our Abington, Malahide, crèche. We firmly believe that this incident is isolated to specific staff in our centre in Abington and does not reflect the overall standard of care given to all children by our employees in Links Childcare'."

In their apology, the defendants said they accepted what they caused to be published clearly identified Sandra Kavanagh and Lisa Craddock as being among those responsible for the behaviour set out in the statement.

The apology added they had suspended and dismissed both women "and these actions on our part were unfair".

The judge received and filed the terms of settlement and, on consent of the sides, adjourned the matter for final orders to November.

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