A major overhaul of the creche inspection regime has been signalled by Taoiseach Enda Kenny.
After expressing his “shock” at RTÉ’s expose of what he called “abuse” in creches, Mr Kenny indicated the Cabinet would approve the creation of a child and family agency next month.
Praising the Prime Time revelations, Mr Kenny said: “God knows what has happened in other locations.”
The Taoiseach called for a cross-party effort to get the upcoming Family Support Bill through the Oireachtas by the summer recess.
“There is an opportunity here that the image, brand and culture, around for a very long time, can be smashed by the setting up of the new child and family support agency.’’
Mr Kenny said a new registration regime for child care providers was looming and a different type of inspection was now needed.
Mr Kenny said that Prime Time had “uncovered cruelty, emotional abuse, physical heavy-handedness with children being flipped and thrown on to mats, verbal abuse and exclusion of very young children”.
The Taoiseach said a new child-centred approach to inspection was needed.
“Regulation is meaningless unless it can be implemented and seen to be implemented. This must not be seen as a box-ticking exercise. It is about our children. Parents make the choice where there is a pre-school year and the money follows the child, but the choice is made by the parents.”
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin called on the Government to show greater urgency in protecting children as the programme showed: “There was a fundamental abuse of the trust parents place in the management of these particular services.
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams warned that the needs of children were being “violated”.
Mr Adams expressed alarm that taxpayers’ money was being given to such creches.
“These creches receive State funding. How can taxpayers’ money be given to a creche when it has not been inspected?
“There are no inspectors in local health offices in Dublin south city, Sligo, Leitrim, my constituency of Louth, Cavan and north Monaghan, and yet these creches receive millions of euro of taxpayers’ money.
“There seems to be an over-emphasis on the business interests of child care providers and an under emphasis on standards, training of staff and regulation.
“We also must recognise that this is a very profitable business, not least because the State is funding it.”
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