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Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald condemned mistreatment of children revealed in an undercover investigation

Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald condemned mistreatment of children revealed in an undercover investigation

PA Archive/Press Association Images

Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald condemned mistreatment of children revealed in an undercover investigation

The children's rights watchdog has demanded health chiefs explain the inspection regime for creches after an undercover sting exposed mistreatment of youngsters.

While the Government is considering withdrawing state funding from underperforming centres, ombudsman Emily Logan said it was clear some staff should not be working with children.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he was shocked at what had been recorded at three creches - footage showed staff manhandling children, shouting at them, snatching toys from their hands and toddlers strapped in highchairs for long periods without anything to stimulate them.

Ms Logan has demanded Health Service Executive (HSE) bosses account for their inspections. She said: "There are very serious issues about the people working, the suitability of the people working with those children.

"My observation, as somebody who is familiar with child development and child psychology, is that the people that I saw, they don't have any appreciation of child development or psychology issues for that age group."

Mr Kenny said footage recorded at Little Harvard in Rathnew in Co Wicklow, Giraffe in Belarmine, Stepaside and Links in Malahide, Dublin, amounted to abuse.

Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald said it was emotional abuse.

The Government has come under pressure from opposition parties to withdraw state funding to privately-run creches that fail HSE inspections. New legislation under the Child and Family Support Bill will remove responsibility for creches from the HSE. The Children First Bill is also to be published shortly.

Inspections should be carried out at creches at least every 20 months. the HSE said it is on average one inspection every 18-24 months. Some parts of the country have no inspectors.

The Taoiseach said the said new legislation strengthening the rights of children will be brought before the Dail in the next four to five weeks. Mr Kenny said: "The Minister for Children is going to supervise and monitor this. It is not just about regulations, it is not just about inspections. It is about qualities and standards, and they need to be applied on a national scale and on a national basis."

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