Roma people now ‘scared’ of having their children taken from them
Removal of two children from their families this week ‘an attack on all Roma people’, say community leaders
Stelian Ciuciu: Community used to attack from individuals but not from authorities. Photograph: Dave Meehan
Members of the Irish Roma community say they have been collectively attacked by the Irish State and they fear that any of their children could be taken from them.
Referring to this week’s case in west Dublin in which a seven-year old girl was taken from her Roma family for two nights on suspicion she might not have been her parents’ natural daughter, Monika Makulova of the Roma project in Pavee Point said “all Roma people [were] very concerned about this case” and were “of course scared now” that their children could be taken at any time.
Stelian Ciuciu, living in Clondalkin, also spoke of the fear among members of the community that any of their children who look different could come under suspicion and could be taken for DNA tests or into care.
He said his family knew the west Dublin family whose daughter was taken into care pending DNA tests to ascertain she was a biological member of her family.
“We know them very well. We knew the girl was their’s. The only reason she was taken is because she is blonde. There are other families with children with blonde hair. They are very scared now their children could be taken as well. It is attack on all Roma people.”
He said the community was used to attack, verbal and physical, from individuals, but said they had not expected so overt an attack on members of their community by authorities.
Ms Makulova agreed no one in the community believed the young girl was anything other than her parents’ biological daughter. “Of course, no one in the Roma people believed that young girl was not belonging to that family. And yes it feels like an attack on the whole Roma community by the gardaí because this was the second case.”
“Roma people here feel racism all the time. They have terrible things said to them.”
She said she was still regularly told by strangers in the street to “go home”, after 15 years living in Ireland. Many Roma had extremely difficult lives here, with few work opportunities and difficulties fulfilling the criteria to be eligible for welfare payments. As a result many Roma lived at or below the poverty line, she added.