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Judge dismisses actions against TV probe creche

A CRECHE accused of allowing corporal punishment to take place on its premises has had all allegations struck out after a judge ruled that Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, had no retrospective powers.

Tusla has said its legal office will now review the District Court decision as a matter of urgency.

Giraffe Childcare at Belarmine, Stepaside, was before Dun Laoghaire District Court accused of breaching a number of childcare regulations.

investigation

The three summonses were lodged by Tusla following a 2013 RTE Prime Time investigation into several creches, including the Giraffe facility in Stepaside.

Judge Hugh O'Donnell questioned how Tusla, which was incorporated last January 1, could bring a case relating to allegations from April 2013. He said he was unaware of any act that allowed retrospectiveness.

Lawyers for Tusla told the court the agency took over from the HSE, whose business and functions were transferred.

It was argued that an investigation into Giraffe Childcare was going on at the time Tusla was set up, and a decision was then made to prosecute.

Judge O'Donnell said he had looked carefully at the legislation.

He said there were no court proceedings against the creche in January 2014 when Tusla was established, and he believed the agency had no retrospective powers to bring proceedings.

He struck out the allegations, saying Tusla had no standing to bring the charges.

The creche was facing three matters under the Childcare Regulations 2006.

It was accused of failing to ensure no corporal punishment was inflicted on pre-school children.

It was also accused of failing to ensure no acts which were disrespectful, degrading, exploitative, intimidating, emotionally or physically harmful or neglectful occurred at the creche.

A second summons related to Giraffe's alleged failure to ensure each child's learning, development and well-being was facilitated through the provision of appropriate opportunities, activities, interaction, material and equipment.

A third summons accused the creche of failing to ensure enough suitable and competent adults were working directly with pre-school children.

All of the charges related to April 15 last year.

In response to the District Court decision, Tusla chief executive Gordon Jeyes said it was imperative that the agency had at its disposal "all legitimate powers to protect the rights of children".

critical

"Where it feels such rights have been impinged, it is critical that Tusla has recourse to the law to address these matters," he said.

Mr Jeyes said it was his understanding that Tusla had the necessary powers to carry out its functions.

"With specific reference to the substance of the court case, it is my understanding that sections 82 and 88 of the Child and Family Agency Act 2013 confer all the necessary powers to the agency to allow it to carry out its functions fully," he said.

hnews@herald.ie


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