Monday 14 October 2019

Gardai now probe six complaints over care in creches

Tom Brady and Luke Byrne

GARDAI are now investigating six complaints from the parents of children in the creche abuse scandal but expect the number to rise in the coming days.

Several parents have contacted their local gardai after viewing a tape of the RTE undercover expose, but have not yet formally visited the stations to lodge their complaints.

However, they have indicated that they intend to do so.

The Irish Independent disclosed yesterday that gardai in Malahide in north Co Dublin have already received five separate complaints in relation to incidents highlighted in the tape referring to the Links creche there.

It emerged yesterday that a sixth complaint has been lodged in connection with the allegations made about the Little Harvard creche in Rathnew, Co Wicklow.

Gardai in the two areas are currently interviewing and taking statements from the six complainants, while they have also visited the creches to establish if they have CCTV cameras.

Footage supplied by the RTE investigation unit is also being examined as part of their inquiries.

While all of the inquiries are being carried out by local garda teams, the overall investigation is being co-ordinated by officers from the garda's domestic violence unit, which is part of the national bureau of criminal investigation at Harcourt Square in the city centre.

The specialist unit will provide expert guidance, where needed, to the local teams while its members are also liaising with the Health Service Executive and other interested agencies.

Calls made to gardai but not yet turned into complaints relate to all three creches featured in the undercover tapes, including the Giraffe creche in Belarmine, Stepaside, south Dublin.

Meanwhile, management at the Giraffe creche have decided to appoint a "third-party" childcare expert to ensure it raises its standards.

After a meeting with parents, the management promised to introduce additional measures, such as the installation of CCTV cameras throughout the 21 Giraffe centres and to improve training for carers.

In a letter sent to parents, managing director Simon Dowling said the appointment of a third-party inspector would ensure standards were raised and the proposed new steps were properly implemented in the future.

He said that after the new measures had been implemented, they would appoint "a third-party childcare and early years expert to carry out an assessment of our complete childcare service to ensure it meets the absolute best standards of practice".

PROMISE

Mr Dowling apologised to parents of children under Giraffe's care, adding: "We have further re-examined our practices and procedures to ensure they are sufficiently robust to avoid this ever being repeated."

As part of the new measures, management at Giraffe said that in future all HSE reports would be available for parents to read on request, as well as garda vetting details and qualifications of all edu-carers and staff.

The HSE has said more robust reviews will be put in place at creches and inspections standardised.

Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald promised to address the need for more inspectors.

Meanwhile, Links creche has willingly handed over CCTV footage to the gardai, a spokeswoman confirmed yesterday. It has been taken as part of an investigation into issues surrounding the mistreatment of children raised by RTE's 'Breach of Trust' programme.

Irish Independent

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