Shocking creche footage shows baby being held down to make it go to sleep
Shocking footage of babies and toddlers being ill-treated in Dublin creches has been revealed in an undercover TV expose.
RTE Investigates sent in two secret qualified childcare workers to creches run by the Hyde and Seek chain.
It laid bare a catalogue of bad practice in the Shaw Street, Glasnevin and Tolka Road creches. They also found serious safety breaches.
The damning revelations, aired last night, showed staff were hired before being garda vetted.
Fire exits were blocked, milk was diluted with water and one childcare worker was left to look after 20 children on their own.
Disturbing footage also showed babies being placed on their stomachs and held down to make them sleep.
A crying child was put in a room on their own for misbehaving.
Children were served a meal of cheap noodles, despite the menu given to parents stating they would get a vegetable dish.
On another occasion children witnessed a loud and angry rant because the room was untidy.
Outside shutters at the back of one of the centres were on occasions shut while a baby was still on the premises, which was a risk in the event of fire.
The Glasnevin branch, charging fees of €1,000-a-month, was opened in January 2018 and operated until March last year without registration.
This is despite the law which prohibits a creche from opening before getting a full registration certificate from Tusla to ensure it meets standards.
A spokesman for the company said one of the owners, Anne Davy, who also managed the Tolka Road branch, "has decided to take no future role in front line childcare provision".
Ms Davy is filmed shouting: "This is a business, it not a babysitting...it is not one-to-one."
At one point the RTE undercover worker pleads: "There are 18 babies and just me. Some babies I don't know."
In 2004 Ms Davy was prosecuted and convicted when staff from the Tolka Road branch left a three-year-old boy on his own in a local playground. She was also convicted for a number of other breaches of regulations. Three years later in 2007 she was convicted again for breaching regulations including child-to-adult ratios and failing to keep records. During these years the company changed name three times.
A week after applying for a job at the Shaw Street creche, one of RTE's undercover workers was employed without being garda vetted.
Although Tusla inspected the branch four years ago and warned against babies being left to sleep on bouncers the practice was still in place until recently.
A Tusla inspection of the Glasnevin centre in February found insufficient space between cots to allow staff check sleeping babies, but this was not rectified five months on.
The spokesman for the chain said it acknowledged it has raised real issues which need to be addressed and some changes have already been made.
Dublin Fire Brigade said it visited the premises and is working with management to ensure the identified deficiencies are addressed.
Tusla said it carried out 11 inspections of these services since September 2017. It said Hyde and Seek Glasnevin was successfully prosecuted by Tusla in 2019 for the operation of an unregistered service. Enforcement activity began in January 2018 when this was first brought to its attention.
Hyde & Seek, Shaw Street, was inspected in September 2018, and again in July 2019, and it is subject to on-going enforcement action. The Tolka Road creche has been subject to a significant level of enforcement.