Dublin - Irish authorities said on Wednesday they had
removed two children from Roma families due to concerns about their identity,
sparking warnings about racial profiling following the Greek “mystery girl”
A boy aged 2 was taken from a family in central Ireland
on Tuesday but returned a few hours later, while officials were awaiting the
results of DNA tests on a 7-year-old girl who was removed from another family
Roma communities around the world are in the spotlight
after the discovery of the girl in Greece, known as Maria and dubbed the
"blonde angel" by local media.
Ireland's Immigrant Council warned the authorities
against unfairly targeting the community.
"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," said chief executive
In the latest case in Ireland, a toddler was taken from a
family in Athlone in the Irish midlands on Tuesday following an investigation
and placed in the care of the health service under the Child Care Act, a police
spokesman told AFP.
The child was returned on Wednesday morning, the spokesperson
The boy's father, speaking in broken English, said his
son has blonde hair and blue eyes but that the boy's mother and
great-grandfather have the same colouring.
"My wife, my grandfather is the same thing; and they
[the police] tell me. 'I know that but people will not believe that', and I
said you can take my blood," the man told RTE.
The man said he spent a number of hours with police,
before he agreed to allow his child to be taken into care overnight pending the
result of a DNA test.
On Wednesday morning, the man collected his son from
health service carers. "He tell me no worry you can take your kid back
because I know it is your kid," the man told RTE.
Warnings of a witch-hunt
In the earlier incident, police removed a blonde,
blue-eyed 7-year-old girl from a Roma family in Dublin over concerns that she
did not look like her parents and they could not prove her identity, according
to media reports.
The results of DNA tests are expected later on Wednesday.
Gabby Muntean, a support worker who has been in regular
contact with the family, told the Irish Times newspaper the parents insisted
the child was theirs.
"They are very upset. They have told me the child is
100% theirs and have offered blood tests and DNA tests to prove this," she
"Now, they just want their daughter back. It is hard
to see any reason why this happened, other than the reports from Greece."
According to media reports, the couple produced a birth
certificate and a passport for their daughter but the documents failed to
"I don't know why she was taken," the girl's
21-year-old sister told the Irish Independent newspaper, adding that she
"was crying and very scared, she was choking".
She said the family had come from Romania in 2001 but had
lived in Dublin since 2009.
"My little brother also has blonde hair and blue
eyes," the woman added.
The "blonde angel"
Due to strong child protection laws in Ireland,
authorities are unable to publicly reveal details on individual cases and
neither the child nor her family can be named.
The cases come after Greek authorities sought Interpol's
help to identify the young blonde girl found in a Roma camp in Greece last
The couple she was living with have been placed in
pre-trial detention for allegedly abducting her.
Pavee Point, a charity that represents the traveller and
Roma community in Ireland, said it was aware of a new incident and was making
The group warned against "witch-hunts"
targeting the Roma and traveller communities.
"Actions by the state need to be evidence based and
due process needs to be accorded to all communities living in Ireland," it
said in a statement.
"There is a real danger that precipitative action,
undertaken on the basis of appearance, can create the conditions for an
increase in racism and discrimination against the Roma community living