Government insists Roma not being ‘singled out’
Shatter ‘anxious’ to ensure no adverse reaction against Roma community after removal of children
Two Roma children lean out through the window of a caravan at an encampment of Roma families in Triel-sur-Seine, near Paris. Photograph: Benoit Tessier/Reuters
Loredana and Iancu, parents of Iancu Jr (2) and his sister. Two gardai called to their home on Tuesday and asked the boy’s father to come with them.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minister for Justice Alan Shatter have said the removal of two Roma children from their homes by State authorities should not be linked to race or result in any group being “singled out” for unwarranted attention.
“This should not be seen to be about any group or any minority, this is about children, and there’s always a balance to be struck if there are genuine fears about the health, welfare and safety of children,” Mr Kenny said today.
The two children were removed from their homes in Dublin and the midlands this week on the basis of claims that they did not resemble the couples who claimed to be their biological parents. It was subsequently established that they were the biological parents and the children were returned to their homes yesterday.
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Mr Kenny said the HSE had been instructed to provide a report on the cases to the Minister for Justice and Minister for Children, which, he said, would be sent on to the Children’s Ombudsman.
“It’s only right and proper that we get a detailed report on what exactly happened here and the balance that was struck between the safety, welfare and health of the children and the law as it stands,” he said.
“This is a case of the safety and centrality of children as distinct from any categorisation of a sector or a minority grouping.”
Mr Shatter said he is anxious to ensure that no group or minority community is “singled out for unwarranted attention” or suspicion following this week’s events.
The matter has attracted criticism from Traveller support group Pavee Point which expressed concern yesterday about racial profiling and the danger of “witch hunts” and racism against vulnerable members of the Roma community.
The two incidents came after a high-profile case in Greece in which a young girl living with a couple who claimed to be her biological parents was found not to be theirs.
Mr Shatter said he expects gardaí and the HSE to report back to his office and to the office of Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald within two weeks.
He said it is “absolutely appropriate” that the finalised HSE and Garda reports are then submitted to Children’s Ombudsman Emily Logan for independent review.
A two-year-old boy was returned to his family in the midlands yesterday after spending a night in HSE care while in west Dublin, a seven-year-old girl was reunited with her family last night after DNA tests proved the couple who claimed to be her parents were telling the truth.