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Dublin: 4°C Sunday 17 January 2021

Gardaí had previous child protection concerns over family of Roma girl placed in care

The lead garda said however that he himself did not speak to the woman who initially raised concerns about the girl.

Protest to Express Solidarity with the Roma last month.
Protest to Express Solidarity with the Roma last month.
Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

Updated 11.20pm

THE GARDA WHO sought the order to remove a 7-year-old Roma from her family told an inquiry into the case that gardaí had previous child protection concerns over the family.

The inquiry at the District Court heard that gardaí had first come into contact with the family three to four years ago in relation to another daughter, now 18, who was pregnant. It had been a child protection matter and there had also been other child protection concerns the court heard.

The information was contained in a report published today by the Child Care Law Reporting Project which provides information  on child care proceedings in the courts.

The garda who invoked the Child Care Act to place the child into care told the inquiry that the family were also known to gardaí for other matters which he said were not “serious”:

[The father] was convicted in relation to road traffic offences, mother was convicted of theft. I’m not talking about any serious gang type … they are known to the Gardaí and have a community Garda assigned to them.

The young girl in question had blond hair and blue eyes and was placed into the care of the HSE while DNA tests were carried out to ascertain whether she was the daughter of the Roma family with whom she lived in Tallaght, Dublin.

The tests subsequently proved that she was related to the family and led to concerns that racial profiling may be at play in cases of children being taken into care.

Gardaí say that concerns over the child’s identity were first raised by a local lady from Estonia.

“She believed the child not to be of the family and had concerns for her welfare. Those concerns were based on her experience of her home country, Estonia,” the garda told the court.

When pressed by the barrister for the parents in court, the garda told the inquiry that he himself had not spoken to the woman.

In respect of the concerns raised about the family earlier, the garda said that supports had been put in place for the other teenage daughter who was pregnant but the case had been closed once she had her child.

Birth cert and passports

Gardaí said that in their opinion the passport and birth cert produced by the mother when the family were visited by gardaí did not refer to the young girl over whom they had concerns.

Gardaí said that they also checked with the Department of Social Protection who informed them that no child under the name the girl was usually referred to was being claimed for.

Claims were made under a different name however with that name also present on official documents at the young girl’s school.

The girl’s school told gardai that they had “no major concerns” but that the school principal had “educational concerns”.

A check carried out with the Coombe hospital while the gardaí were at the family home did not find any record of the child being born. The birth was identified by the hospital “later on” according to the garda.

Originally published 4.51pm

Column: Why and how are children taken into State care? >

Read: DNA test proves girl taken from house in Tallaght is related to Roma family >

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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