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HSE child services chief to meet with Garda Commissioner on Roma cases

Gordon Jeyes will head up the HSE report on the two cases in Tallaght and Athlone, with the findings of the review to be handed over to the Children’s Ombudsman.

National Director of Children and Family Services at the HSE, Gordon Jeyes
National Director of Children and Family Services at the HSE, Gordon Jeyes
Image: Photocall Ireland

Updated 23.10

MINISTER FOR CHILDREN Frances Fitzgerald has confirmed that National Director of Children and Family Services Gordon Jeyes will head up the HSE’s review of the two cases this week in which Roma children were taken into care.

The cases, in which a 7-year-old girl in Tallaght and a 2-year-old boy in Athlone, were removed from their families by gardaí under childcare legislation, generated international headlines. The two incidents came in the wake of another high-profile case last week, in which a blonde child was found living with a Roma family in Greece.

In a statement this afternoon, the Children’s Minister highlights that gardaí are entitled to take such action under Section 12 of the Child Care Act 1991, when they have: “reasonable grounds for believing that there is an immediate and serious risk to the health or welfare of a child”.

She says “the use of Section 12 is a power of the Gardaí which is used in very particular circumstances. It is, by its nature, an exceptionally used power to secure the safety of children.

“Along with my colleague, the Minister for Justice, I believe that we must examine the evidence that was used to guide the decision making leading to the removal of the children from these families so that all aspects of the intervention are examined.”

Justice Minister Alan Shatter confirmed this morning that a Garda report on the cases was also being compiled, and said he expected it to be completed within two weeks.

Speaking to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland Shatter said that the “international backdrop” of the case in Greece may have had “some undue influence in the decisions that were made” in the two Irish cases.

Once completed, the Garda and HSE reviews will be handed to Ombudsman for Children Emily Logan for her consideration.

A spokesperson for Pavee Point, which represents the Traveller and Roma communities in Ireland, welcomed the responses by the two ministers, but said there a problem with the plans announced as it would “be a case of an authority investigating itself”.

“We believe the Children’s Ombudsman is best placed to lead the report,” Siobhan Curran, co-ordinator of the Pavee Point Roma Project told TheJournal.ie.

Minister Fitzgerald said she had also asked Jeyes to “ensure that all possible supports are made available to the families from statutory or voluntary groups should they wish to avail of them”.

First published 12.43am

Read: Shatter: Greece case may have had ‘some undue influence’ on Roma child removals

Read: Pavee Point calls for full independent review into Roma child cases

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