Treatment of two families has horrified the Roma community in Ireland, says academic
‘I was shocked . . . In my opinion it was basically due to a racial prejudice’
PhD student and part time college lecturer Gina Jordan pictured in University College Cork.Pic Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision
The treatment of the two Roma families whose children were taken into care has horrified the Roma community in Ireland and should never be allowed to happen again, according to the chairwoman of a Roma support group.
Academic Gina Iordan said she was concerned about racial profiling. She believed the Dublin incident “happened because of the events in Greece where the child was taken from a Roma family there. I was shocked . . . In my opinion it was basically due to a racial prejudice,” she said.
“I do not consider that they had a legal ground in removing those two children from their families – they acted based on a suspicion that was reported by someone and they should have done their work before they removed these children.
“I certainly believe that they [the HSE and the Gardaí were racially biased and I am enraged by the way that they acted. Under Irish law, taking a child from its family should be a last resort, not a first resort as happened in both cases here.”
Ms Iordan, a Romanian who has lived in Ireland for 13 years and is currently tutoring at the department of social studies at University College Cork while completing a PhD on Roma cultural adaption in Ireland, said the Roma community “is horrified by what has happened”.
“Many of them came here in the late 1990s to seek asylum and many of them got refugee status – they are hoping for a better life.
“Many of them have come here to escape persecution and racist attacks and abuse and yet they are treated here with the same racial prejudice . . . parents who have blond-haired children are scared that some people will come and remove their children from them.”
Ms Iordan welcomed the decision by Minister for Justice Alan Shatter to request a report from both the Garda Commissioner and the HSE on their interventions in both cases but said she believed an independent review would be preferable.
“I think an independent review is probably more likely to be more accurate – I am not saying that the gardaí and the HSE won’t do a proper review but I think for everyone to be at more ease, an independent review should be done.”
Ms Iordan also called on the media to be more careful in how it reports not just these cases but matters relating to the Roma community generally, warning that sensationalist reporting can incite hatred.
“We shouldn’t just think of the damage done to the family, and there is a huge psychological damage to the parents, to the other siblings and to the children themselves, but also damage at international level.
“The reporting of these Irish cases has fuelled the anti-Roma prejudice in some eastern European countries.”