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Standard of care at creche chain ‘deeply distressing’

Children were roughly handled at Hyde & Seek branches in Dublin, an undercover investigation revealed.

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Bernie McNally gave evidence to the Oireachtas Children’s Committee (Oireachtas/PA)

Bernie McNally gave evidence to the Oireachtas Children’s Committee (Oireachtas/PA)

Bernie McNally gave evidence to the Oireachtas Children’s Committee (Oireachtas/PA)

An investigation into the standard of care at a creche chain in Dublin was “deeply distressing”, TDs and Senators have been told.

An undercover investigation into the Hyde & Seek creches revealed children were being roughly handled.

It also showed a series of fire safety breaches at the multimillion-euro family-run business.

The company has four creches across Dublin city catering for children from three months up to 12 years.

The appalling mistreatment of children and the terrible management practices were unacceptable and inexcusableBernie McNally, Department of Children and Youth Affairs

Undercover footage revealed repeated breaches of regulation, as well as concerns around sleep room conditions.

Bernie McNally, assistant secretary general of the early years division at the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, is appearing before the Oireachtas Children’s Committee in an emergency meeting.

“Last week’s (RTE) Prime Time Investigates programme was deeply distressing for all of us to watch,” she said.

“The appalling mistreatment of children and the terrible management practices were unacceptable and inexcusable.

“I know that Tusla, in collaboration with the gardai and the fire safety authorities, are pursuing those responsible.

“We are working intensively to improve quality in services and to ensure that there is robust regulation.

“We believe that Hyde & Seek does not represent the standard of care and education offered by the 4,500 services.

“But one case such as this is one case too many, and we are working extremely hard with Tusla, and via other means, to ensure that all children have access to loving and nurturing services, and to ensure that services which do not meet required standards are closed down as soon as legally possible.”

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Pat Smyth, interim chief executive at Tusla, the child and family agency.

Pat Smyth, interim chief executive at Tusla, the child and family agency.

Pat Smyth, interim chief executive at Tusla, the child and family agency.

Pat Smyth, interim chief executive at Tusla, the child and family agency, told the Oireachtas committee the behaviour towards children and the serious breaches of regulations at Hyde & Seek creches were “shocking, unacceptable, and worrying”.

He added: “Tusla had concerns regarding repeated breaches of compliance with regulations in all the Hyde & Seek services which were informed by inspection, some of which was triggered by information received through the Unsolicited Information Office.

“However, it is most important to state in the clearest possible terms that Tusla’s Early Years Inspectorate had no evidence of the serious child protection concerns or the high degree of serious non-compliance with standards that was shown in the RTE programme.

“Indeed, the behaviours displayed are unlikely to be evident during an inspection and we rely on good professional practice and appropriate mandatory reporting under Children First, or through Tusla’s Unsolicited Information Office for the notification of child protection concerns.”

PA