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Dublin: 13 °C Wednesday 19 June, 2019
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Childcare providers who breach regulations could be fined €100,000

An amendment bill tabled by Fianna Fáil would see the fines being brought into place.

CHILDCARE PROVIDERS WHO breach legislation could face hefty fines, under an amendment to the Child Care Act proposed by Fianna Fáil.

The party has published the new legislation a month after the Prime Time programme Breach of Trust showed footage from three creches that caused widespread concern.

A garda investigation was opened following the programme, while Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald was among a number of people to appear before an Oireachtas committee on childcare.

Fianna Fáil said the aim of the bill is to strengthen the penalties for childcare providers in breach of regulations, and will allow for fines of up to €100,000 to be imposed by the courts.

It would also allow for imprisonment for a term not exceeding 24 months, and/or a fine.

Deterrent

The party spokesperson on children Deputy Robert Troy said:

We need a strong deterrent in place to ensure childcare providers are not flouting the regulations in place to ensure the safety and health of children in childcare.

He said that though a month has passed since the Prime Time programme was broadcast, “we have yet to see real action from the Government”.

While I fully accept that more time will be needed to bring forward a comprehensive response to deal with the issues highlighted and ensure a robust regulation and inspection regime, the Oireachtas can also show leadership now to bring forward tougher penalties for breaches to the existing Child Care Act.

The piece of amending legislation would allow courts to impose fines of up to €100,000 to child care operators who are found to be in breach or consistently in breach of regulations.

Currently, the financial penalty stands at €1,270. “This is not the strong deterrent we need,” said Troy of this figure.

He urged Fine Gael and Labour to support the bill, and said that if parents are to have confidence in the child care sector and in the HSE and the Government monitoring the sector, “then adopting this legislation makes sense”.

Read: Minister to be quizzed on childcare concerns>

Read: Did you miss the Prime Time creche expose? Here’s what happened>

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