Second Opinion: Did racism protect the Roma children better than Irish children?
Frances Fitzgerald, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, speaking to media about the Roma Children incidents. Photograph: Alan Betson
The hysterical accusations of racism that followed the temporary removal of two children from their Roma families because of suspicions about their parentage prove that people have short memories.
The Garda are now being censured for doing what they were severely criticised for not doing in the past. Have people forgotten the findings of the child abuse reports published over the past 20 years?
All of these showed that the Garda need to be more forceful when it comes to child protection and speedily remove children from situations where they may be at risk.
Child to safety
The 1993 Kilkenny Incest Investigation found that the gardaí did not “act on their own initiative to remove a child to a place of safety”. When ‘Mary’ escaped from the family home to avoid being physically and sexually abused by her father, gardaí discovered where she was living and told the father who brought her home.
‘Mary’ was again severely physically assaulted by her father and called the Garda. “Her father went to bed at the gardaí’s suggestion and this concluded the incident.”
“On no occasion prior to Kelly’s death did the health board consider involving the Garda.”
The 2008 Monageer Inquiry into the deaths of Adrian and Ciara Dunne, three-year-old Lean and four-year-old Shania, found that the Garda’s behaviour was too hesitant and they did not act quickly enough.
When Garda E was asked to patrol outside the house, he did not visit in case it “exacerbated the situation”.
Garda Superintendent C said that if he or any member of An Garda Síochána had called to the Dunne household and the family was alive and well, they would be criticised for using “gombeen policing methods”.
Furthermore they were “neither trained nor qualified to carry out an assessment of the family”.
The 2010 report into the Roscommon child care case found that the children had been severely physically and sexually abused for many years and that the Garda and HSE staff had not been assertive and authoritative enough.
The Garda claimed to have had “no major concerns in that the parents were not seen in the pubs at night but usually during the day”. When relatives called the Garda to say that a 13-year-old child was looking after six younger children they were not immediately taken to a place of safety.