Ombudsman to investigate Garda role in Roma cases

Two children were taken from their families amid concerns over their identity

 Tallaght Garda station where a Roma girl was taken before she was put into care after being taken from her  family.  Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Tallaght Garda station where a Roma girl was taken before she was put into care after being taken from her family. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Fri, Oct 25, 2013, 17:36

The Ombudsman for Children has been given special powers to investigate the Garda over the removing of two children from separate Roma families.

The youngsters, a girl aged seven and a two-year-old boy, were taken from their parents on Monday and Tuesday this week after members of the public reported they were not their children. The claims were unfounded and both children were returned to their families.

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has given Ombudsman Emily Logan the power to conduct an inquiry even though her remit normally stops her from investigating the Garda.

“At the moment I do not have the power to investigate An Garda Siochana. I feel that, in this case, I need this power to conduct a complete investigation,” she said.

“We make sure that the law is upheld, that citizens’ rights are protected and that good standards of public administration are applied.

“As always, I intend to conduct an independent, impartial investigation from first principles. I will not be rubber-stamping the reports of other agencies. However, I appreciate that it is good practice for those agencies to conduct their own, internal investigations and make reports.”

In the meantime, An Garda Síochána and the Health Service Executive have both been asked to provide reports on the cases.

Mr Shatter said he expected those reports within weeks.

He said it was “absolutely appropriate” the finalised HSE and Garda reports would then be submitted to Children’s Ombudsman for review.