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Sunday 21 September 2014

Roma girl taken by State now doing ‘fine’ - mother

Published 06/07/2014 | 02:30

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The girl known as 'Maria'
Children’s Ombudsman's report found the case of Maria (above) — a blonde, blue-eyed girl taken from a Roma family in Greece — influenced members of the public who raised concerns in Ireland.

THE mother of the seven-year-old Roma girl wrongly taken from her family said her daughter is now doing “fine” despite the horrific ordeal she endured last year.

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The blonde and blue-eyed girl was taken from her family by gardai and put into the care of the Health Service Executive (HSE) for three days amid fears she had been abducted.

The school girl has now dyed her hair brown because she is afraid of being snatched from her parents again.

Speaking to the Sunday Independent last week, the young girl’s mother said her daughter and the family are now beginning to cope with the nightmare ordeal.

“She’s fine and we’re fine,” she said.

The Roma woman said she was precluded from saying more for legal reasons.

The family’s solicitor, Waheed Mudah, who is preparing a legal action against the State, said the young girl clearly resembled her mother and questioned the motives for putting her into care.

He told the Sunday Independent: “You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see the resemblance. There was no-one in doubt in her school or anywhere else that she was her mother’s child.”

He added: “Can you imagine what was in her mind before she came to the decision to dye her hair?

The impact of having been taken from her parents was heartbreakingly evident when the youngster herself spoke about how she cried endlessly for her family when she was in care. “I didn’t know anything. I was sad, I was very sad when I wasn’t with my family,” she told reporters last year.

The day after her release from State care, the child’s sister also told how the youngster woke up in the middle of the night crying for her family.

Last week, the family received a State apology, along with the parents of another Roma boy who was also put into care by gardai who believed he had been kidnapped

The young girl from Dublin cannot be named for legal reasons, but is referred to as Girl T in a damning Children’s Ombudsman report.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald and Interim Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan made public apologies to the Dublin family following the publication of Emily Logan’s report.

The family of Iancu Muntean Jr, who was taken from his family in Athlone, Westmeath in the same week, also received a State apology.

Ms Logan’s report found the case of Maria — a blonde, blue-eyed girl taken from a Roma family in Greece — influenced members of the public who raised concerns in Ireland.

Gardai took Girl T from her home after receiving reports she had been kidnapped.

Children’s Ombudsman Emily Logan said gardai swooped on the house on the back of an “explicitly prejudiced and racist” email sent to a journalist who then forwarded the concerns to gardai.

Ms Logan said racial profiling was not a factor in Girl T’s case, but said gardai should have investigated the case thoroughly before taking the youngster from her family.

There was confusion surrounding the girl’s birth certificate, because her parents had not registered the same name  she is currently using.

It also emerged in the report that gardai also contacted the principal of the child’s school, who told them that he had no concerns about the girl’s identity.

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