Dublin: Irish authorities briefly removed a toddler from a family due to concerns about his identity, a day after taking a child from a Roma family in a case which echoes of the Greek ‘mystery girl’ inquiry, police said on Wednesday.
The two-year-old boy 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 shortly afterwards, the spokesman added.
Pavee Point, a charity that represents the traveller and Roma community in Ireland, said it was aware of a new incident and was making inquiries.
It came as authorities awaited the results of DNA tests on a seven-year-old girl who was removed from the family’s home in Dublin on Monday and taken into care.
Her parents have insisted she is theirs and the results are expected later on Wednesday.
Police took action after concerns that the girl, who has blonde hair and blue eyes, did not look like her parents and they could not prove her identity, according to media reports.
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 “racial profiling”.
“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 Denise Charlton.
“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 per cent of social welfare checks as part of a new crackdown on fraud.”
Pavee Point 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 here.”
In the case of the girl taken on Monday, 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 per cent theirs and have offered blood tests and DNA tests to prove this,” she said.
“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 satisfy police.
“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.
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.