SECRET recording of staff at a Dublin creche has sparked a garda and HSE investigation into allegations of poor care standards.
Over a number of weeks, an RTE Prime Time researcher posed as a childcare worker in the Giraffe creche in Belarmine, Stepaside in Dublin.
The journalist allegedly witnessed a series of disturbing incidents.
As a result, Giraffe has suspended two staff members while it carries out its own probe.
The HSE and gardai have also been called in to investigate the facility.
Yesterday, parents picking up their children from the Stepaside creche said management of the facility had written to them saying the allegations would be fully investigated.
Parents said they were told the allegations arose from undercover research for a Prime Time programme.
These allegations included:
* Children being strapped into seats for two hours;
* Children's heads being pushed or held to the floor when they were being encouraged to take naps;
* Children's heads being covered with blankets when they were being encouraged to nap;
* The ratio of children to adults in a room being out of line with guidelines;
* Children being exposed to aggressive shouting.
Giraffe said it was taking the allegations of "poor practice quality of care provided at this Centre very seriously".
"As a precautionary measure, we have suspended the two members of staff named in the complaint while we examine the matter and establish the facts," a statement said.
Parents collecting children from the Giraffe facility in Stepaside yesterday told the Herald they were shocked by the allegations.
One parent said he is going to remove his child from Giraffe and seek legal advice.
"Our decision to place our child here is based on trust and that trust is broken now," he said. "We had no inkling of this at all and our child has always been happy here.
"That's why we were so shocked to hear what is being alleged," he explained.
One parent said it was costing them €1,000 a month to have a child looked after at Giraffe.
Others said they would wait to see the programme before deciding what to do.
RTE said that it had reported its findings to the relevant authorities at "an early stage".
"RTE continues to liaise with the parents of the children involved, the creches featured, the HSE and gardai.
"Rigid production and editorial standards have been observed under the guidance of RTE's own journalism guidelines and childcare experts," a spokesperson said.