Following the RTE Investigates programme which showed dangerous practices in a Dublin Créche chain Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Children & Youth Affairs, Anne Rabbitte TD, says that greater enforcement powers should be given to Tusla.
She commented, “Like so many parents around the country, I was horrified by what I saw on this week’s Primetime programme. From the appalling attitude to fire safety to distressed children being restrained and forced to sleep on command, the footage painted a very shocking picture of créches which were able to remain open.
“We cannot leave it to the RTE Investigates team to supervise the childcare industry. Only 6 additional inspectors have been recruited by Tusla since the 2013 RTE documentary Breach of Trust which showcased serious malpractice at créches.
“Even where inspections do happen, I am not satisfied with the enforcement powers given to Tusla. Concerns had been raised by Tusla inspectors regarding créches related to fire safety, choking hazards, hygiene standards, and faecal matter in cots.
“Tusla does not have the power to close down créches for serious or repeated violations of its standards without taking the créche to court. It cannot even notify parents that it is taking a créche to court, meaning that whereas parents can see when a créche is found guilty of minor non-compliance issues, for more serious matters, it is not obvious to parents where a créche is being investigated.
“By contrast, the HSE can shut a restaurant down for breach of food safety standards without a drawn-out legal process. Whereas Tusla closed only five services in the last year, the HSE has served closure notices on 43 restaurants in the last 6 months.
“We come down harder on dirty kitchens than we do on créches with serious fire safety breaches and choking hazards. I will be bringing forward legislative proposals shortly to address this issue and give real enforcement powers to Tusla.”