Focus on Limerick creches highlights vetting loopholes

The Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald expressed concern that many creche and pre-school personnel have no Garda vetting after the publication of the latest tranche of 37 HSE inspection reports for Limerick. They are available on pobal.maps.ie, writes Religious and Social Affairs Correspondent Joe Little.

The Shannonside county is the first of the Republic’s 28 (Dublin comprises three Counties) on which inspection reports will be published in response to last May’s RTÉ Primetime expose of mistreatment of children in some creches in Greater Dublin.

It was chosen quite arbitrarily, Ms Fitzgerald explained, and not because of any particular concern about the quality of services in Limerick.

Since August 2012, the HSE has required all pre-school and creche personnel to have Garda vetting. But in the reports published on Wednesday and today, many of the Limerick-based facilities failed to comply.

Ms Fitzgerald told RTÉ News that the processing time had quadrupled this year but that the Government had re-assigned 54 public servants to the Vetting Unit in a bid to reduce the backlog.

She said that at present, the HSE was satisfied to allow the non-compliant childcare facilities to continue to function once they provided evidence that they had applied for Garda vetting for all their personnel.

Once this was provided, there was no question of them losing their State contracts to provide the Free Pre-School year, she said.

75 reports on facilities in Limerick have now been published. The Minister said this is not an exhaustive list of Limerick services but represents the most recent reports which have been completed on the named facilities during the years 2011, 2012 and 2013.

She also advised parents and guardians not to rely on reading the HSE reports on the internet.

She said they should be made available on request by the creches and pre-schools themselves.

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