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Thursday 19 April 2018

Shatter preparing to launch inquiry into Roma scandal

RETURNED: Iancu Muntean with parents Loredana and Iancu Snr.
RETURNED: Iancu Muntean with parents Loredana and Iancu Snr.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter is preparing the ground for an inquiry into how two Roma children were taken from their families by gardai, after he received a report from Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan.

Another report on the role of the HSE's child and family services in the case has been submitted to Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald.

Mr Shatter is now preparing to draw up the terms of reference for an inquiry by Children's Ombudsman Emily Logan into the actions of gardai in both cases.

They involved a seven-year-old girl from Tallaght, Co Dublin, who cannot be identified, and two-year-old Iancu Muntean, from Athlone, Co Westmeath.

 

TRAUMATIC

Gardai acted after concerns were raised about the children, but DNA tests revealed that they were living with their biological parents.

Both children, who have blond hair and blue eyes unlike their parents and siblings, are back with their families after their traumatic experiences.

The cases attracted worldwide attention, given that they came to light soon after a blonde girl in Greece was found living with a Roma family who were not her birth parents.

Ms Logan's inquiry is expected to investigate whether "racial profiling" was a factor in the embarrassing episode, and why the children were removed from their families.

Mr Shatter said this week that he did not want to undermine faith in the child protection services and that people should report any concerns they had about children's welfare.

However, he said it was important that no group or minority community is singled out for "unwarranted attention".

Mr Shatter has forwarded the garda report into the handling of both cases to Ms Logan. His spokeswoman said it would not be appropriate for him to make any further comment, given that an inquiry was being set up.

She said: "This process is now under way, and in the coming days the minister hopes to finalise terms of reference and make the necessary arrangements, with the Ombudsman for Children, as well as provide her with the reports, so that she may undertake her inquiry in relation to the role of the garda in these cases."

hnews@herald.ie

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