herald

Tuesday 12 November 2019

'I was disgusted by what I saw' - angry protest at TV expose creche

Sisters Cassie and Pennie Connolly call on Tusla to act
Sisters Cassie and Pennie Connolly call on Tusla to act
Rose Byrne & grand daughter Lilly Barr
Eve Dunphy (9) & Callan Dunphy (7)

Angry protesters have called for the State to take over the Hyde and Seek creche in Dublin's Tolka Road.

It comes in the wake of this week's disturbing TV revelations about standards of care at the nursery.

The creche opened early yesterday, but closed at lunchtime in advance of the protest.

About 50 people - all members of the local community - stood outside, chanting: "Hey ho, hey ho, Hyde and Seek it's got to go."

In this week's RTE Prime Time Investigates programme, undercover staff revealed mistreatment of children at the family-owned creche chain.

One of the owners, Anne Davy, has since stepped aside from front-line creche work.

Accountable

Protest organiser Sorcha Finnegan said she remembers listening to her mother talk about the Magdalene Laundries.

"What was going on there was known about, but the people didn't stand up," she said.

"When I watched this week's TV programme, I said, 'Those children are not going to be attending psychiatrists over what has happened'."

Among those joining the protest were childcare worker Eimear Meleady, from Glasnevin, and a friend, a childcare worker who used to work at the Tolka Road creche.

Both had seen the TV programme and wanted to do something to help.

"I was disgusted by what I saw," said Ms Meleady.

"It made me want to do something about it because Tusla is not doing enough.

"Anne Davy was accountable for what was going on here, but who is accountable for her?"

Her friend, who wished to remain anonymous, claimed she had seen verbal abuse and children being forced to sleep during the nine months she worked at the creche.

Local woman Jackie Byrne said she was angry at what happening on her doorstep.

She said parents had left their children at the creche for "love and care", only to find their trust abused.

Tusla said it would not comment on the steps it is taking because it may prejudice enforcement action.

A spokesman for An Garda Siochana said it was aware of the issues raised by the Prime Time programme.

He said parents or guardians who had concerns about the creche should contact Mountjoy Garda Station on 01-666 8600 or Pearse Street Garda Station 01-666 9000.

A spokesman for the Hyde and Seek chain said few parents had withdrawn their children from the creches. He said the chain intended to seek advice from an external consultant.

"We will take a little time to ensure we select the most appropriate person," the spokesman added.

"As stated, Anne Davy is taking no further role in front-line childcare.

"The fire safety issues in the cot rooms referred to in the programme were resolved before the programme aired.

"And there has been a Dublin Fire Brigade inspection of them since.

"As stated, we will review the service and its management structure with the assistance of an external consultant.

"We are engaging fully with Tusla and other relevant authorities and will co-operate with anything they ask of us," the spokesman said.

Every early years service is required to have a complaints process.

In respect of early years services, the agency receives two types of information - unsolicited information and child protection and welfare referrals.

Tusla said it can be contacted with unsolicited information, which is defined as any piece of information that relates to the operation of an early years service that has been brought to the attention of the inspectorate, but has not been sought or requested.

When information is brought to the agency's attention in relation to potential harm to a child, Tusla's child protection and welfare service screens and assesses this.

"Where there is an immediate and serious risk to a child, Tusla provides an immediate response," said a spokeswoman.

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