A crèche employee who is being investigated for allegedly sexually assaulting two children at the facility is no longer working at the centre, pending the outcome of the investigation.
The Irish Independent has learnt that gardaí expect their investigation to last for a “number of months” and specialist interviewers will need to be brought in.
The investigation started last week when officers received separate complaints that two children were sexually assaulted at the Co Kildare crèche by a staff member.
It is understood that the crèche has fully complied with all relevant child protection measures and regulations.
“The children involved here are very, very small,” a source said. “This is going to have to be handled in such a very sensitive way by the authorities. It is going to be very complex.
“It will be many months before gardaí will be able to establish exactly what happened.”
Specialist Garda interviewers are not expected to speak to most children in the crèche until the new year.
The crèche remains open and all parents with children there have been informed of the shocking allegation.
No arrests have been made over the sexual assault complaints, which were made to Co Kildare gardaí by two different parents in the past 10 days.
“An Garda Síochána is investigating a complaint and is currently working with Tusla,” a Garda spokesman said.
“The investigation is at an early stage and is of a sensitive nature and we are therefore not in a position to comment any further as this is an ongoing investigation.”
The investigation is being led by Garda Superintendent Gerry Wall. The Garda Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Investigation Unit (DVSAIU) is expected to take a lead role in the investigation.
This specialist unit leads the investigation of complex cases such as what has been alleged at the Co Kildare crèche.
The exact nature of the sexual assault allegations are not known. However, sources said that the complaints were being treated as “credible”.
The criminal investigation will also involve interviews with the parents of the children and the staff member against whom the allegation has been made, as well as management at the crèche and other staff.
Gardaí will also have to investigate whether anything of this nature happened in the facility in the past.
Gardaí will share information regarding any child protection concerns with Tusla, the Child and Family Agency.
Tusla will assess the level of reported child protection concerns and determine if any action needs to be taken.
This will be guided by the ‘Children First’ guidelines and can involve a decision to remove a childcare worker, who is not vetted by gardaí, if deemed appropriate.
A spokeswoman for Tusla said that it would not comment on individual cases.
“This is to protect the confidentiality and privacy of the children and families with whom we work,” the spokeswoman said.
Under regulations updated this year, childcare services must carry out Garda vetting of staff and also a reference check.
This must also extend to unpaid workers and volunteers.
There must also be police vetting from abroad of employees who have lived outside the jurisdiction for six months. The Garda vetting must be retained for five years from the date of employment.