Families to sue creches over Prime Time expose
THREE creches at the centre of an RTE Prime Time expose are set to face legal suits from more than 20 families.
Parents of many of the children whose alleged mistreatment was filmed by undercover workers have engaged lawyers with a view to suing the childcare facilities.
The HSE may also find itself embroiled in any future court cases amid allegations that the body failed to intervene quickly enough when it became aware of the RTE footage.
Links creche in Abington in Dublin, the Giraffe creche in Belarmine, Stepaside, and Little Harvard in Rathnew, Wicklow, all featured in the Prime Time investigation. Images of children being shouted at, strapped into chairs for long periods and flipped on maps caused shock and outrage last May.
A criminal investigation is also underway after complaints were made on foot of the programmed entitled A Breach Of Trust.
The parents will separately seek compensation for alleged breach of contract, distress, as well as seek a refund of any fees paid to the creches.
Solicitor Kathrin Coleman of Lavelle Coleman, which represents many of the families who were affected by the abuses brought to light by the programme, said parents had come together to pursue their options.
She said that the parents found it "deeply disturbing" to learn of some of the practices at these creches.
The HSE, which is responsible for the regulation and inspection of creches, may also be joined as co-defendants to future cases.
"The issue of the action or inaction of the HSE in relation to matters that they were aware of is of considerable concern to our clients and we are currently investigating these matters on their behalf.
"It is not appropriate to comment further on this matter, at this point," said Ms Coleman.
Meanwhile, RTE has robustly defended the manner in which it handled complaints involving the creches.
A letter was written last June by David Nally, managing editor of RTE Current Affairs, to Labour TD Ciara Conway, Vice-Chair of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children.
Mr Nally said that RTE was "very surprised" to learn that Gordon Jeyes – the HSE's National Director for Children and Family Services – told the Oireachtas Committee that the RTE researchers made no reports to the HSE regarding the poor practices and standards of care they witnessed.
"This is emphatically not the case," said Mr Nally.
He said that from the outset of the investigation RTE had worked closely with a childcare expert who advised the production team at every stage of the process on all matters, including its reporting responsibilities.