Parents with children at the Drumcondra branch of the Hyde & Seek creches met with management on Saturday to discuss the fallout from an RTÉ programme which detailed disturbing behaviour and practices including breaches of fire safety and rough handling of children.
One parent who spoke to The Irish Times after the meeting said she had been left with no option but to take her two children out of the creche immediately.
She drew comparisons between some of the scenes she had watched on the RTÉ Investigates programme broadcast on Wednesday night and a “Dickensian orphanage from Oliver Twist”. She added that, having viewed the exposé, she felt she had been left with no choice.
Another parent said he too had been left with no choice but, in his case, the choice was to leave his children aged two and four in the creche because they could not get a place elsewhere.
He said he drew comfort from his first-hand knowledge of the frontline staff in the creche who he described as “wonderful”.
The one-to-one meetings took place as a small group of protesters made up of local residents gathered outside the creche to express their anger at the treatment of children.
They gathered under the impression that the owner of Hyde & Seek creche Anne Davy was on the premises. However, staff said she was not there, something that was confirmed by parents.
The parents said they had been told that Ms Davy, the owner the multimillion-euro company with four creches in Dublin, had ceased to be involved with the operation.
After meeting management, one mother said that while she was “sympathetic marginally to the situation the staff are in”, she had been left with the impression the creche was not “fully accepting culpability and still making excuses”.
She said she had attended a meeting with creche management before the programme was broadcast and what it contained had been “very much downplayed”.
A father with two children aged two and four in the creche said he would continue to bring his children there, although he said they were both on waiting lists for other creches.
“A lot of the care staff there are wonderful although I still have a lot to think about,” he said. “We are looking at options but we just have to try and move forward and this could be kind of one of those landmark case that will see Tusla roll up their sleeves and start doing something.”
He added he had been told Ms Davy had left the business and “hasn’t been back since even before the TV programme came out”.
He asked if she would be playing a behind the scenes role or be involved in staffing or budgets. “They said no.”
In a statement issued last week the company said Ms Davy was stepping away from “front-line childcare provision” following the documentary.
It went on to say while the creche disputed “some of the detail of what has been reported [it] is not to dispute the overall point, which is that we have work to do to ensure we continue to offer the highest standards of care.”
Tusla officials are due to appear before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Children and Youth Affairs on Wednesday to answer questions on the controversy.