herald

Saturday 16 December 2017

Creche in Prime Time probe hit with 24 charges

A crèche which was subject to an RTE Prime Time investigation has been hit with 24 charges at Dublin District Court.

The prosecutions are being brought by Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, against the Links creche in Malahide, Co Dublin.

Four of the charges are against the proprietor, Deirdre Kelly (55), with an address in Kinsealy, Co Dublin.

These relate to alleged breaches of record keeping and Garda vetting regulations.

The remaining 20 charges are against the crèche itself.

DEGRADING

Some 16 of these were described by solicitor David McCoy, for Tusla, as "welfare-type prosecutions" of a "disrespectful, degrading and exploitative" nature.

The hearing, which lasted less than five minutes, was adjourned until November 18.

The maximum fine the crèche can be hit with under the charges is €1,300.

However, the court can also disqualify the operators from running a crèche for a period of time.

The court heard RTE had passed 40 hours of footage to Tusla. Mr McCoy told Judge John O'Neill the charges "arose on foot of a probe by RTE".

He said Tusla had consented to a request from the defendants for a copy of the footage to be shared with them under discovery.

He said the book of evidence in the case was "at a very advanced stage" and should be available within a fortnight.

Judge O'Neill agreed to a five-week adjournment to allow the defence side time to view the footage.

Ms O'Neill stands accused of failing to ensure appropriate vetting of all staff, students and volunteers who had access to a child, contrary to the 2006 Child Care (Pre-School Services) Regulations.

Similar charges were also lodged against the creche itself.

The creche is also accused of failing to ensure that no practices that were disrespectful, degrading, exploitive, intimidating, emotionally or physically harmful or neglectful took place at its premises on several dates in February, March and May of last year.

There is also a charge of failing to take all reasonable measures to safeguard the health, safety and welfare of a pre-school child attending the service in March of last year.

hnews@herald.ie

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