Tuesday 10 December 2019

Creches facing prosecution over Prime Time revelations

The Giraffe creche in Belarmine, near Stepaside, Dublin
The Giraffe creche in Belarmine, near Stepaside, Dublin
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

TWO creches which featured in an RTE Prime Time investigation are facing prosecution by Tusla, the Child and Family Agency.

The agency has decided to bring the charges following a lengthy investigation launched in the aftermath of the programme.

One prosecution is being taken against the Links creche in Abington, Malahide, north county Dublin. The second is being brought against the Giraffe creche in Belarmine, Stepaside, south county Dublin.

It is understood that the prosecutions relate to alleged breaches of the Child Care Act 1991 and childcare preschool regulations.

RTE's programme, called 'A Breach of Trust', focused on alleged mistreatment of children in three crèches and aired in May 2013.

It prompted concern from authorities and investigations were launched by the gardai and the child and family section of the HSE, which later became Tusla.

Undercover

Video footage from inside the creches formed part of the probes. The footage was taken by undercover reporters with childcare qualifications.

The investigations also involved interviews with management and staff at the crèches and parents.

The garda probe resulted in a file being sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions, which did not recommend charges.

However, Tusla has decided to mount a prosecution based on its own probe.

The prosecutions are due to begin on different dates next month, the Irish Independent has learned.

Tusla declined to comment, saying it could not discuss the details of prosecutions it is involved in.

Neither crèche provided a comment after being contacted by the Irish Independent.

A spokeswoman for RTE said its policy was not to comment on legal matters.

Separately, two people are facing criminal prosecution after a garda investigation into the disappearance of two children from the Giraffe crèche in Belarmine in July of last year, two months after the RTE programme aired. The two children left the premises by themselves during a visit by farm animals and their handler to the creche.

Management at the creche later admitted the children had exited through a gate that had been left open.

They were found on a patch of grass outside the creche after a care worker noticed they were missing and discovered them with the help of a local resident, according to a creche statement.

Irish Independent

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