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Enda Kenny speaking in the Dáil this morning Screengrab
Leaders' Questions

Taoiseach on creche controversy: ‘God knows what has happened in other locations’

Enda Kenny told the Dáíl this morning that the government needed to the get the provision of childcare in Ireland right.

TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY has told the Dáil he was shocked by what he saw in last night’s Prime Time programme exposing the mistreatment of children in some creches in Dublin and Wicklow.

Speaking at Leaders’ Questions this morning Kenny said that there is “nothing more important to our country than the children of the nation” and said the government would prioritise legislation aimed at protecting children and would work with opposition parties.

“I didn’t have an opportunity to see all of the programme but what I did see shocked me,” Kenny said adding that the footage captured by RTÉ’s investigation showed what “was clearly an abuse of responsibility” by childcare workers in the creches.

He added: “The programme yesterday showed what is happening and what has happened in a number of creches… God knows what has happened in other locations.”

Kenny was quizzed by Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin on the status of a number of pieces of legislation relating to children and children services including the Children First Bill and the law which will establish the Child and Family Support Agency.

The Taoiseach said it would be a matter of weeks before such legislation was before the house but expressed his hope that legislation would be passed before the end of the current Dáil term. He also hit out at portrayals of childcare facilities as businesses.

“I hate to hear this business being branded as a business, as a sector, as an industry. Childcare is a profession, child protection is a profession,” Kenny said, adding that there needed to be a focus on the quality of childcare not just the quality of childcare environments and checking “whether the lights are working”.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams questioned why facilities which had not been inspected were in receipt of state funding, asking the Taoiseach: “How can taxpayers money be given to a creche when that creche has not been inspected?”

Kenny said that the inspection regime in Ireland is more frequent than that in the UK but said that the “standards have to be at a higher level”.

“This affects everybody in the country and we need to get it right,” he said.

Read: Fitzgerald “witnessed emotional abuse of children” in crèche footage

RTÉ: No repeats or online airing of Prime Time creche investigation

Poll: Are you worried that mistreatment of children in crèches is more widespread?

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