Email led to little Iancu being put into foster care
Published 02/07/2014 | 02:30
LITTLE Iancu Muntean Jnr, or Child A as he is referred to in the Ombudsman for Children's report, might never have been taken from his parents were it not for an email received by the Garda Missing Persons Unit last October.
It was sent at the height of the international publicity surrounding the alleged abduction of 'Maria', a blonde girl found on a Roma encampment in Greece.
An Eastern European woman outlined concerns about a boy she saw with his family at a festival in Co Clare the previous June.
"He had the blondest hair and bluest eyes and his complexion was also fair ... Apart from the baby, all the others were completely dark in complexion, eyes and hair."
The email set in train a series of events which saw gardai intervene and little Iancu placed in foster care, only to be returned to his parents and two siblings the following day.
His parents, Iancu Snr and Loredana, originally from Romania, were distraught by what happened and the family now plan to sue the State.
Ombudsman for Children Emily Logan found it was a case where racial profiling had been used by the gardai.
Officers should have evaluated the situation more critically before taking the two-year-old boy into care, she concluded.
A negative inference was drawn from the parents' initial hesitancy to produce Iancu's birth certificate.
Gardai also failed to take into account the fact the boy's parents had informed them he was an albino.
"The actions of An Garda Siochana in this case conformed to the definition of ethnic profiling," Ms Logan found.
The Ombudsman's report detailed how the events had a serious impact on the boy and his family.
A public health nurse described his parents as being pale and in a state of distress and shock, while the boy called out for his mother in the middle of the night after being taken into foster care.
Their solicitor, Paul Connellan, said: "Iancu and Loredana have made Ireland their home for the last seven years and Ireland continues to be home to both them and their three children.
"They now wish to return home and try as far as possible to restore some normality to their lives and in this regard, they have asked the media to respect their privacy."