Dublin creche owner faces trial on childcare-law charges

Dublin creche owner faces trial on childcare-law charges

A Dublin creche owner will go on trial in September, charged with breaking childcare laws in connection with allegations made in an RTE television documentary.

The Links Creche and Montessori Ltd, at Abington Wood, Swords Road, Malahide, Co Dublin, and its director Deirdre Kelly, from Saint Olaves, Kinsealy, Co Dublin are accused of breaking the Childcare Act and pre-school services regulations.

The prosecution has been brought by Tusla, the Child and Family Agency (CFA) as a result of the expose “Breach of Trust”, by RTE's investigations unit, which aired in 2013.

RTE provided the CFA with 40 hours of secretly filmed footage.

Lawyers for Ms Kelly and the creche had demanded a concession from the CFA that most of the video evidence obtained does “not show anything untoward” otherwise, they argued, 40 hours of footage would have to be shown in the trial.

Today at Dublin District Court, David McCoy, solicitor for the CFA, told Judge Bryan Smyth that the prosecution was able to give concessions regarding the video footage.

He said that in these circumstances the hearing, which will include CFA, RTE and defence witnesses will last about three days. About an hour and a half of footage will be used but it will take longer than that to show it in court, Mr McCoy said.

Ms Kelly had been excused from attending the proceedings today.

Judge Smyth ordered that the three-day trial would commence on September 15 next. Defence barrister Cara Jane Walsh consented.

At an earlier stage she had said the prosecution alleges "that there was a practice in operation, we say it would go to our defence, that it was not a practice, it was not habitual and not on-going."

The CFA alleges the creche breached regulations by not preventing practices that were “disrespectful, degrading or exploitative”. On conviction, the court can impose fines of up to €1,300 as well as an order suspending a person from running a childcare facility.

Ms Kelly and the company face four charges for not having staff, students and volunteers with access to children vetted by gardaí, and it is also alleged she and the creche breached record-keeping regulations from October 7 until October 14, 2013.

Furthermore the company itself faces another 20 charges including claims that on March 5, March 6, March 13, March 19, March 20, March 21, May 30 and February 27, 2013 it failed to: “ensure that no practices that are disrespectful, degrading, exploitative, intimidating, emotionally or physically harmful or neglectful were carried out in respect of any child”.

It is claimed the company did not “take all reasonable measures to safeguard the health, safety and welfare of a pre-school child attending the service” on the same dates.

Dublin District Court has also heard that RTE had been in daily contact with their “undercover witness”.


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