Specialist interviewers are to speak with young children at a creche after it emerged gardaí are investigating allegations of sexual abuse at the facility, writes Noel Baker.
It is understood that two sets of parents with children at the creche, which is based in Co Kildare, raised concerns with the gardaí that their children may have been abused there.
In what could prove a long and difficult investigation, staff at the creche are likely to be interviewed, with specialist interviewers speaking with children.
It is understood the creche has a large staff and that it caters for dozens of children.
Gardaí were staying tightlipped yesterday regarding the investigation. However, it is understood both complaints were made within the past 10 days. It is also believed the creche has remained open since the allegations were made.
It is understood the allegations regarding any abuse at the creche relate to a named member of staff, but gardaí yesterday stressed that it was an allegation and that they would not be commenting on an ongoing investigation.
The matter is also being investigated by Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, which released a statement yesterday, although a spokesperson said the agency would not comment on individual cases.
“When an allegation is made in relation to a staff member at a creche, Tusla’s first priority is to ensure the safety of the child/children in question,” reads the statement.
“As with all child protection concerns, a concern about a creche is dealt with in line with Children First and Tusla regulatory procedures for early years services.
“Tusla responds to risks of this nature in a proportionate manner, based on the risk to the child/children.”
Early Childhood Ireland, the representative body for the sector, said child protection is of “paramount importance” within the early years sector.
It referred to Early Years Services Regulations introduced last June, which includes the legal requirement for all people working directly with children to have a minimum NFQ Level 5 in early childhood care and education. Through the National Vetting Bureau Act 2012, anyone working directly with children, either paid or unpaid, must have Garda or police vetting in place prior to commencement of work.
Minimum qualifications are also to be introduced for those working in the sector as of the end of this month and Early Childhood Ireland said it was obvious that serious breaches would not be tolerated.
This article first appeared in the Irish Examiner.