THE Garda Ombudsman has sought a copy of the report being prepared for Justice Minister Alan Shatter on the circumstances which led to the decision by garda officers to remove two Roma children from their homes.
The report will be sent by Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan to Mr Shatter after it has been drafted by senior officers involved in the two cases in south Dublin and Athlone.
Both reports will be referred to Ombudsman for Children Emily Logan for examination. Ms Logan said last night she might launch her own investigation into the cases. She said she had been contacted yesterday by Mr Shatter to raise the possibility of an expanded role in investigating the cases and was awaiting clarification on his proposal.
In the meantime, she added, she had started internal preparations for an investigation.
The Garda Ombudsman Commission said yesterday it had written a letter to Mr Shatter seeking a copy of the Callinan report. But a spokesman said this did not mean it would carry out its own investigation into the two cases.
He said the commission was anxious to see a copy of the report, so it could be fully informed when determining what its position should be.
The Garda Ombudsman has not received any complaints about the cases but has the power to hold an investigation "in the public interest".
However, a decision will not be made until more details of the background to the move, which led to the seven-year-old girl and two-year-old boy being taken temporarily into foster care, have emerged.
Mr Shatter told the Dail that gardai had responded in "good faith" to reports from the public and said members of the force and HSE workers faced similar "difficult and complex" situations every day.
"They are somewhere between a rock and a hard place," he said, adding that gardai would be criticised if they sat back and did nothing.
He criticised some TDs for jumping to the conclusion there was "racism involved and the gardai are involved in racial profiling".
It was not acceptable, he said, that any families or any individuals were in any way treated differently because of their ethnic background or religious faith.
A number of TDs raised the role of the media in the affair and Mr Shatter said this would also be investigated.
"As minister, I have questions I want answered," he said, but added he would wait for the garda and HSE reports.
Ms Fitzgerald confirmed yesterday she had asked Gordon Jeyes, national director of children and family services, to provide her with a report on the HSE actions in relation to the two Roma children, who were provided with foster care under Section 12 of the Child Care Act, 1991, following garda inquiries.
She said Mr Jeyes would meet senior garda officers to discuss the cases and review the actions taken.
Under Section 12, a garda could take such action when there were "reasonable grounds for believing that there was an immediate and serious risk to the health or welfare of a child".
She said the use of Section 12 "is a power of the gardai, which is used in very particular circumstances. It is, by its nature, an exceptionally used power to secure the safety of children".
Ms Fitzgerald said she and Mr Shatter believed they must examine the evidence that was used to guide the decision making leading to the removal of the children from their families, to ensure all aspects of the intervention were reviewed.
"The priority is to protect children and to secure their best interests."