Government insists Roma not being ‘singled out’
Shatter ‘anxious’ to ensure no adverse reaction against Roma community after removal of children
Speaking this morning, Mr Shatter said it was “important”lessons are learned from both cases. He said he had “no doubt” that gardaí acted “in good faith” in both cases.
“Fortunately it turned out that the concerns that arose in each of these cases were unfounded,” Mr Shatter told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland. He was “very anxious” to ensure that any lessons that need to be learned “are learned” and that procedural changes are implemented if required.
Mr Shatter did not rule out the possibility that a similar case in Greece where a blonde child was taken from a Roma couple may have had some bearing on decisions taken by authorities here.
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“We never stop learning in these areas. And obviously we’ve had events in this instance where two children from Roma families with an international backdrop of a case that has been under the spotlight for some time may have had, possibly, some undue influence in the decisions that were made,” he said.
Gardaí and the HSE have been criticised in the past for not intervening as quickly as they should, he noted. “In a sense, they are damned if they do and they’re damned if they don’t,” he said.
Commenting on the danger of an adverse reaction against the Roma community on foot of widespread publicity, Mr Shatter said he was “anxious” to ensure that does not happen.
“I am ... anxious to ensure that there is no question of any group or minority community being singled out for unwarranted attention or indeed suspicion in relation to child protection issues. I don’t believe that was the intention here.”
Mr Shatter accepted the experience was traumatic for the families involved.
“I am sure the action taken was well-intended. It was obviously traumatic for the families, it was traumatic for the children and we must do what we can to ensure that if there are any changes required in the approach taken that they are put in place,” he said.
Expressing concern at how the media reported the event, Mr Shatter said it was regrettable that details of the cases “found their way into the public domain and brought additional pressure on to the parents.
“The results established that the concerns the gardaí and the HSE may have had were unfounded,” he said. “I don’t know why so much detail found its way into the public domain.”
Mr Shatter said this was also a matter to be considered by the Children’s Ombudsman.