Tusla and Minister must come before Committee to address mistreatment of children

The Chair of the Oireachtas Committee on Children and Youth Affairs has called for the cross-party group to convene as soon as possible on the appalling treatment of children in creches revealed on Primetime last night.

Fine Gael TD Alan Farrell said the issues raised must be discussed with Tusla and the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone, as a matter of urgency.

Deputy Farrell said: “I am absolutely appalled by the mistreatment of children and clear lack of standards revealed on Primetime’s investigation last night.

“The disregard of fire safety, the prioritisation of staffing needs over children and the wanton disregard for child:adult ratios have deeply shocked the nation.

“The documentary revealed a complete failure to adhere to Tusla guidelines and instructions, poor management and unbelievable mishandling of children.

“And all of this from a company that made huge profits over the previous years on the back of state contributions, topping €2.5m after wages.”

Deputy Farrell continued: “While Tusla have called for further evidence from Primetime, it is clear that all facilities in this group must be closed until such time as guarantees are provided to the Dublin Fire Brigade that fire safety concerns are addressed and that the care provided in all units of the group are beyond reproach.

“Jeopardising the most vulnerable members of our society by totally disregarding fire safety measures for convenience is unconscionable.

“Tusla must assure the public that it has the resources and legal authority to intervene when required.

“The regulator has stated that the Tolka Road creche has been subject to a significant level of regulatory enforcement activity and referrals have been made to Tusla’s child protection and welfare services – yet last night we saw clear and disturbing proof that they were grossly breaching the guidelines.

“Tusla must provide assurances that the early years inspectorate teams can intervene when required, up to and including shutting down such facilities.”

Deputy Farrell concluded: “If a sufficient number of members of the Committee wish to reconvene to discuss this issue with Tusla and Minister Zappone, then I would be happy to call for the Committee on Children & Youth affairs to meet as soon as possible.

“Action must be taken immediately.”