Roma families who had children taken get apology
TWO Roma families, who both had children taken by gardai, have responded to a Government apology after a report found that racial profiling played a role in the cases.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald and acting Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan yesterday apologised to the families.
The report, by Children's Ombudsman Emily Logan, looked into how two-year-old Iancu Muntean Jnr from Co Athlone, and a seven-year-old girl from Tallaght, west Dublin, were taken into custody.
The incidents happened last October at the height of the international furore over the alleged abduction of a blonde haired, blue-eyed girl called Maria by a Roma family in Greece.
Solicitor for the Athlone family, Paul Connellan, said they hoped the Ombudsman's recommendations will prevent "similar events happening in the future."
He said: "(Parents) Iancu and Loredana have made Ireland their home for the last seven years." They now wish to return home and try as far as possible to restore some normality to their lives.
Asked about legal proceedings, Mr Connellan said the papers were lodged in February "long before any indication that an apology was forthcoming from the minister".
He added: "I was delighted to hear the wish expressed by the minister today that such proceedings could be resolved amicably and I share her wish."
Kevin Tunney Solicitors, who act on behalf of the Tallaght girl's family, said in a statement that she was taken in circumstances "that should be unimaginable in a civilised society".
It added that his clients were pleased that their care for their family and their daughter was vindicated by the report. It said the power to remove children should be exercised with "extreme caution".
In the case of the child in Athlone, Ms Logan found that the actions conformed to ethnic profiling. She found that the removal of the child was "inextricably" linked to the fact that the boy was of Roma descent.
In the Tallaght case Ms Logan said there was a "readiness" on behalf of the authorities to believe the child was abducted.