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Loredana and Iancu, parents of Iancu Jr (2) and his sister. Photo by: Irish Times

Irish ombudsman given special powers to investigate seizure of two Roma children

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Loredana and Iancu, parents of Iancu Jr (2) and his sister. Photo by: Irish Times

An investigation is being launched by Ireland's ombudsman for children into the seizure of two Roma children who were taken from the their parents by Irish police and placed into the care of the Health Service Executive.

The two children - a seven-year-old girl and a two-year-old boy- were taken from their parents after reports from members of the public that the two blond haired, blue eyed children did not belong to two Roma couples living in Dublin and the Irish Midlands.

DNA testing proved that the respective couples were the children's parents, the Guardian reports.

Emily Logan, the children's ombudsman, said Ireland's justice minister had given her special powers to investigate the behaviour of the Irish police force and health service over the way they handled the cases of the two children.

She said she wanted to investigate the children and the families were treated and how the standards of public administration were carried out by the garda and the HSE."

She said the finished report would be made public.

In addition to any legal action the families may take, a number of private individuals may initiate private prosecutions against the police and the HSE over the mistakes.

Loredaiva Sava, the mother of the two-year-old boy seized in Athlone on Wednesday spoke of her son's fear when the police arrived. He was returned to his family on Thursday.

Her partner, Iancu Muntean, said he did not believe an Irish family would be treated in the same way.

Amnesty International spokesman Colm O'Gorman said any responses reported to child protection concerns needed to be proportionate and non-discriminatory.

He said: "If it is found that the authorities' actions were discriminatory, steps must taken to ensure this is not repeated. There must be a public apology to the Roma families for the wrongdoing.

"The eyes of the world are now on Ireland, and the government must show institutional discrimination will not be tolerated."

Justice Minister Alan Shatter has urged people not to stop reporting concerns over children because of the treatment of the Roma families.

He said: "Quite clearly no fault of any nature attaches to the two families concerned for the events that took place and I have asked that the social services provide any support or assistance that they or their children require to cope with these very difficult events."

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