Preschool owner “very remiss” - judge

A Westmeath woman providing childcare services has pleaded guilty to failing to prevent children in her care from accessing a roadway.

A public health nurse found children under three on the road 400 yards away from ‘Giggles’, a pre-school at The Arches, Donore, Streamstown, home of Veronica Lynam.

A HSE investigation was then carried out on the same day.

Mr Dermot Scanlon said the HSE regarded the offence under the childcare pre-school services regulations as “a serious matter”.

The incident involved “very, very young children” under the age of three who were found on the roadway close to half a kilometre away from where they should have been safely fenced in and secured.

The incident which drew the HSE’s attention occurred at 10.10am on June 11 this year. The children were close to other houses.

Regulations oblige Lynam to ensure all gardens and play areas are fenced and doors and gates secured to prevent a pre-school child gaining unsupervised access to a roadway or other source of danger.

Four other charges against Lynam were marked proven and taken into consideration and Mr Scanlon told the court that the HSE wanted a conviction to be recorded against her.

The other charges relate to failing to ensure that each child’s learning, development, and well being was facilitated within the daily life of the service, failing to ensure that the premises were of sound and stable structure, that fixtures and fittings were in a proper state of repair and hygiene and failing to safeguard the health, safety, and welfare of the children attending the service by ensuring that ponds, pits, and similar hazards were fenced.

Mr Louis Kiernan indicated to the court that there had been a difficulty with a fence and said his client, a mother of four herself, was “horrified” by what had happened.

Judge Patrick Clyne said he was anxious not to put Lynam out of business and proposed a donation of €250 for a local charity, Barnardos.

However, he pointed out that Lynam had been “very remiss” and that he was “not a bit happy” with her.

She also agreed to pay the HSE’s costs of €709. Judge Clyne dismissed the case on its merits and gave the HSE liberty to re-enter it.

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