INSTALLING CCTV in creches is something that “has to be considered”, Leo Varadkar has said.
As the focus on practices in childcare facilities heightens after an undercover investigation into a Dublin creche chain revealed repeated breaches of regulations, Mr Varadkar said parents might be reassured by CCTV.
The RTÉ Investigates exposé of the Hyde & Seek creches revealed that children were being roughly handled. It also showed a series of fire safety breaches at the multimillion euro family-run business.
The company has four creches across Dublin city catering for children from three months up to 12 years.
Undercover footage also revealed concerns around sleep room conditions.
On Wednesday, representatives from Tusla and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs appeared before an emergency Oireachtas children’s committee on Wednesday to discuss childcare facilities.
Bernie McNally, assistant secretary general of the early years division at the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, told the committee that installing CCTV in creches is an option.
Speaking in Kilkenny on Thursday, Mr Varadkar said: “On the issue of CCTV in creches, it is something that has to be considered — but it needs to be considered carefully as well.
“You know, I would certainly want to know what would parents think of that in particular because, while parents might be reassured by having CCTV in creches, they also mightn’t like the idea that their children are being videoed all the time. So I think there’s a balance of issues there that will have to be considered before going ahead with that.”
Ms McNally told Wednesday’s committee that the department would have to look at the rights of all the children. She added: “While it does seem like a good solution and it is an option, we don’t do it in classrooms, we do have to look at the pros and cons of it.
“Is it something that has to be discussed further? Yes.”
She made the comments after Fine Gael Senator Catherine Noone queried whether CCTV equipment could be installed in facilities around the country.
Ms Noone later said the role of CCTV in creches needs to be “seriously considered”.
“Let me be clear, I do not suggest that CCTV be in sensitive areas of creche facilities. However, introducing it to communal areas will provide assurance to parents and a deterrent to any corners being cut,” she added.
“In fact, this is already carried out in some creches.
“Parents need all the assurance they can that the care being given to their children is of the highest standard.
“I believe that any move in this direction should be done with consultation of parents and with guidelines from the Department of Children and Youth Affairs for service providers.”