Two young Roma children were removed from their families by Irish authorities who then carried out DNA tests on the children before returning them home. Human rights groups are claiming these children were “abducted” due to racial profiling following the case of the four-year-old girl, “Maria”, in Greece.
A seven-year-old girl in Tallaght, County Dublin, and a two-year-old boy in Athlone, County Westmeath, were taken from their parents and put into care due to their appearance. The police were given tip-offs which pointed out that the children looked nothing like their families.
Pavee Point, which works on behalf of Irish Travellers and the Roma community, have called for an independent inquiry into why these children were taken from their families.
The Tallaght child’s 21-year-old sister told SkyNews that their mother had not eaten or slept in three days, she has been so distraught.
She said: "The most important thing now is that my sister is coming back."
Spokesman for Pavee Point, Martin Collins, said, “We are extremely concerned and worried about these developments.
“We hope it is not the beginning of some sort of pattern where children of Roma parents who are not dark skinned and and do not have brown eyes are taken away one after the other for DNA test after DNA test.
“It’s outrageous. It’s quite despicable.”
The Immigrant Council of Ireland joined Pavee Point’s in expressing outrage. Denise Charlton, the group’s chief executive, said “Ireland has already been warned by a Council of Europe report in February about the need to prevent racial profiling, and the events of the past week have done little to reassure migrants that this is being done.
“The placing of two children from the Roma community into care comes just one week after the Government announced that people from abroad would account for a disproportionate 50% of social welfare checks as part of a new crackdown on fraud.
“Any targeting of members of an individual community for such scrutiny, on the basis of unfounded perceptions that they are more likely than others to break the law, is wrong.”
Charlton said robust anti-racism policies and procedures are crucial in order to ensure fair access to and delivery of our public services.
“It is time for the Government to outline what procedures are in place to reassure people, both Irish and migrant, that no one need fear being targeted because of their background, belief or colour of their skin.”
Collins conceded that the police must act on reports of child protection allegations but said their reaction must be evidence based, proportionate and given due process. He also pointed to the hysteria surrounding the case of “Maria” in Greece. The four-year-old’s DNA did not match her “parents” Christos Salis (39) and Eleftheria Dimopoulou (40). They have since been charged with abduction.
The two children in Ireland were removed from their families under section 12 of the Child Care Act 1991. This means that there must be serious risk to the child’s health of wellbeing.
Collins pointed out that both of these children were being “cared for, had adequate shelter, clothing and food. They were well loved.
“At no point at all was there an issue of an immediate and serious risk.
“These are quite clearly cases of racial profiling.
“Not every Roma has brown eyes and dark skin, the same as not every Spanish person does.”