Dozens of Drumcondra residents protest outside Hyde & Seek creche
‘If she was in anyway a decent woman she’d come out and face the people here today’
Local residents protesting outside the Hyde and Seek Childcare facility in Drumcondra in the wake of the RTÉ Investigates programme. Photograph: Alan Betson
Dozens of people gathered outside the Drumcondra branch of the Hyde & Seek creches on Friday afternoon to express their anger at the treatment of children exposed in a RTÉ programme earlier this week.
Calls of “Anne Davy out” could be heard echoing down the street as more than 50 parents, grandparents and children holding placards and balloons stood at the entrance to the Tolka Road creche, which had reportedly closed its doors shortly before the protest began.
Ms Davy is the owner of Hyde & Seek, a multimillion euro company that runs four creches in Dublin, including the facility on the Tolka road in north Dublin.
Most of the crowd was made up of local residents eager to highlight their anger following the broadcast of an RTÉ Investigates programme which detailed distributing behaviour and practices at the crèches, including breaches of fire safety and rough handling of children.
Sheets of paper with messages calling on Tusla to “do your job, listen to the children sob” were plastered across the shuttered entrance to the building.
Susan Mangan, a former employee at the creche who lives locally, said she only lasted two days working there before looking elsewhere for work. “It was seven years ago and there were very cramped conditions, kind of what you saw on the video.
“It wasn’t as graphic as her screaming but it just wasn’t a nice place to work in. The child to staff ratio wasn’t great even back then. Creches should be warm and inviting places. This place should be a community run creche, but it’s all for profit.”
Sorcha Finnegan, who brought the balloons to the protest to “signify children’s innocence”, said she was reminded of the treatment of women and children in Magdalene Laundries when she saw the RTÉ report. “It’s 2019, not 1920. These situations can easily be swept under the rug and then in 20 or 30 years time we hear of adults that are going through therapy because nobody stood up for them.”
Marian Bradley, who said she made a complaint about the creche two years ago when she saw the shutters were kept down and locked after children arrived for the day, said she felt disturbed by the “greed” of some private creches. “The watering down of milk, the 12 cent noodles from Tesco - it’s about how much money they’re taking in,” she said. “My heart is broken for those children and also for their parents.”
The Social Democrats’ Gary Gannon, who attended the protest, said local residents wanted to show they were in no way complicit in what had happened at the creche. “For them it’s about mobilising and saying not in our backyard,” said Mr Gannon. “They’re here today to say they’re not going to accept children being treated in that way in proximity to their homes.”
Tusla officials are due to appear before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Children and Youth Affairs on July 31st to discuss the RTÉ report into the Hyde & Seek child care facilities.