Shatter to request report on removal of two children
‘I understand that the two children concerned are children of the families concerned’
Alan Shatter: Conscious that An Garda Síochána “have a very important role in dealing with children protection issues”. Photograph: David Sleator
Minister for Justice Alan Shatter is to ask the Garda Commissioner for a report into two cases where gardaí removed two children from a family in Tallaght and in the midlands because of concerns about their identity and welfare.
Mr Shatter said he had no doubt gardaí acted in good faith in the interventions but he was seeking a report on each case “with a view to reviewing the procedures that applied”.
He told the Seanad that “concerns about the identity of two children taken into care have been proved groundless”. He said: “I understand that the two children concerned are children of the families concerned, of the parents concerned and that there is no reason for any doubt in that regard.”
Referring to the cases of a seven-year-old girl from a Roma family in west Dublin and the two-year-old of an immigrant family in the midlands, the Minister said he had no doubt gardaí acted in good faith in the intervention “but I do have concerns in relation to each of these matters”.
Mr Shatter said he was conscious that An Garda Síochána “have a very important role in dealing with children protection issues . . . and circumstances do arise where for the protection of children it is necessary for the gardaí to intervene and take them to a safe place”.
He said he would be asking the Garda commissioner for a report on the background to each of these instances with a view to reviewing procedures that applied.
He wanted to do so to ensure gardaí continued the very important role they must play for the protection of our children, “while also trying to ensure that the type of situation that has arisen in each of these cases, which impacts on family members, mothers and fathers, which impacts on children, can be avoided insofar as that is possible”.
Mr Shatter was speaking during a debate on direct provision for asylum seekers, provided with accommodation and three meals a day in hostel-style facilities. Adults received €19.10 a week in social welfare, but the families do not have the right to seek employment and have no access to further education. In some instances people have been in direct provision for 10 years.
The debate was part of a cross-party motion by Senators calling for reform of the system. It was introduced by Independent Senator Jillian van Turnhout and was accepted by the Government.
Ms van Turnhout said her overwhelming concern was that the administrative system of direct provision, operating in Ireland since 2000, “is detrimental to the welfare and development of asylum seekers and in particular the 1,732 children currently residing in direct provision accommodation centres throughout Ireland”.
She also expressed grave concern that the system had cost the State about €655 million in contracts to private firms which are operating the centres on a for-profit basis.
Ms van Turnhout said she was not convinced the system was the most economical.