Trial of creche charged after RTÉ broadcast delayed again

Two directors of Hyde & Seek creche chain accused of regulatory offences under child care act
Trial of creche charged after RTÉ broadcast delayed again

The trial of the directors of Hyde & Seek was due to be heard in June but did not take place due to Covid regulations. The case is now adjourned until October 21, 2020. File Image: RTE Investigates

The trial of the Hyde & Seek creche chain for breaking childcare laws following an RTÉ Investigates programme has been further delayed for new hearing dates to be set.

The Dublin creche and directors Siobhan and Anne Davy have been accused of regulatory offences under the Child Care Act 1991 (Early Years Services) Regulations 2016.

That legislation sets out the standards of health, safety and welfare that must be in place before pre-school childcare services can be provided.

They deny the charges.

The non-jury trial was originally due to be heard in June at Dublin District Court.

However, as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, the court pulled the trial.

The case was listed again for mention before Judge Anthony Halpin on Thursday. He adjourned the case until October 21, 2020, when new trial dates will be given.

It is expected to last a week and a dates before the end of the year are being sought for the hearing.

The court had earlier granted a stay on the de-registration of the creches by Tusla, Child and Family Agency. The prosecution’s case was based on inspectors’ reports and RTÉ footage, the court has heard.

The trial was previously due to be heard in February but it was then adjourned following a request by the defence solicitors Michael Staines and Aoife Corridon. They wanted a technical expert carry out an examination of the video evidence.

Mr Staines had said earlier that he had been provided with 3,000 pages of evidence and the court heard there will be 10 or 11 State witnesses. Most were Tusla employees.

There were 120 hours of film footage. It had been distilled to about 20 or 21 minutes which was broadcast, the court heard. “We are certain there was selective editing of film on certain occasions,” Mr Staines has told the court.

Siobhan Davy was accused that as a director of Hyde and Seek Glasnevin Ltd, on April 11, May 23, and July 27 last year, at the premises on Finglas Road, Dublin, she permitted two staff members to work directly with children while not in possession of documentary evidence confirming they held minimal educational awards.

She faced a summons for permitting staff to wake a child by holding a wet cloth their face on July 10 last year. She was also accused of allowing one staff member to supervise nine babies in contravention of safety ratios on July 8 last year.

The company itself is accused of not having documentary evidence of staff having a major award qualification in early childcare. It is also accused of permitting the use of a wet cloth to wake a child.

Owner and director Anne Davy was accused of allowing eight staff members work at Hyde and Seek Creche and Montessori without appropriate Garda vetting, and providing inadequate space with 46 children present on various dates when only 32 were sanctioned at the creche.

If convicted they could face fines of up to €120,000, the court has heard.

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