Friday 23 August 2019

Complaints flood in over Hyde & Seek after exposé

Anne Davy. Picture: Maxpix
Anne Davy. Picture: Maxpix
Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

Tusla, the child and family agency, says it has received "a large volume" of complaints about the Hyde & Seek creche chain whose poor practices were exposed by RTE's Prime Time Investigates.

The complaints are understood to include several from former childcare workers at the chain.

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One former worker at Hyde & Seek told the Sunday Independent last night that she received a "verbal warning" for highlighting concerns about owner Anne Davy's treatment of children in her care.

Tusla declined to specify how many complaints it had received about the family-run chain but indicated there were many. A statement said its "early years' service has received a large volume of unsolicited information in respect of this situation".

In the RTE programme broadcast last Wednesday, Ms Davy was secretly filmed shouting and threatening crying toddlers; and placing babies on their stomachs and pressing their heads down to make them go to sleep.

A crying child was left for 40 minutes in a highchair; children were served watered down milk and cheap noodles instead of a promised vegetable meal; and a staff member was hired before being properly vetted.

The Glasnevin branch, charging fees of €1,000 a month, operated for three months without proper registration, in defiance of the law.

Ms Davy's daughter Siobhan Davy met with parents at a north Dublin branch of the creche chain yesterday. A public relations firm, Murray Consultants, is fielding media queries.

The Davy family's efforts to rescue the childcare business, which made just under €800,000 profit last year, may take more than back-to-back meetings with anxious parents and a PR firm.

The creche chain is now facing a Garda investigation over an alleged assault on a child reported to them earlier this month before Prime Time Investigates was broadcast. Tusla is likely to take further enforcement action against Hyde & Seek having viewed footage obtained from RTE on Friday.

In a statement following the programme, affected parents called on "all parties concerned to immediately address how this happened, and to credibly explain how they will make amends".

Ms Davy resigned from "front-line childcare" even before the programme was broadcast.

She has operated creches for more than 20 years, often coming into conflict with the local authority and residents.

Planning files at Dublin City Council contain letters signed by up to 50 households opposing her plans to open a creche at the back of 62 Clonliffe Road, around the corner from her Tolka Road creche.

"Her short period in operation on Tolka Road has resulted in a number of disturbances and a large amount of inconvenience in the locality," one resident wrote.

Local people who protested outside Hyde & Seek on Tolka Road last Friday afternoon are to hold another "peaceful protest" this Friday.

Sunday Independent

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