Friday 22 September 2017

Previous child protection concerns with family in blonde Roma girl case

New details on the case have emerged
New details on the case have emerged
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

THE Roma family whose daughter with blonde hair and blue eyes was taken from them over concerns that she wasn’t biologically related had previously come to the attention of authorities over child protection concerns about her older sister, it has been revealed.

New details of the case of the young girl who was returned to her parents after DNA tests provided she was biologically have emerged among several reports published by the Child Care Law Reporting Project (CCLRP) this afternoon.

Accounts of the hearings in the case also revealed:

• Both parents in the case have convictions for minor offenses.  

• They were considered a flight risk due to their membership of the Roma community.

• The guard that removed the child from the family insisted that their ethnicity played no role in the decision.  

• The judge in the case allowed her family to make a statement to the press to tell their side of the story because he believed the ‘in camera’ nature of the proceedings had been breached.

The removal of the child from her family generated an international media storm in the wake of a similar case in Greece made headlines around the world.

The newly released account of the case cover two hearings, one where an Emergency Care order was sought by the HSE and the second where the court was told that the DNA tests proved she was a biological member of the family.

Also included in the fourth volume of reports by the CCLRP are the case of a young baby who suffered life-threatening injuries while in the care of its parents and the case of four African children taken into interim care arising out of allegations of physical abuse at the hands of their parents.

The reporting team observed that themes of alcohol and drug abuse feature in many cases and highlighted that the latest statistics show applications to take children into care increased by 15pc between 2011 and 2012.

The CCLRP is an agency set up to provide information to the public on child care cases outline 13 cases in its fourth volume of reports.

Publishing the volume today a CCLRP statement said: “We feel that the cases published here at length illustrate some of the difficult issues facing social workers, judges and all involved in the child protection system.”

The case involving non-accidental injuries caused to a young baby while in the care of her parents saw 17 days of evidence spread over six months.

The judge granted a one-year Care Order for the child and her brother, who was also young, subject to the parents, the extended family and the HSE participating in a programme specially designed to deal with cases where children suffered abuse at the hands of their parents.

The CCLRP statement said: “Non-accidental injury of very young children is a highly emotive and controversial subject both here and internationally.

“There have been a number of high profile cases in other countries where the evidence has been hotly contested, or where it has come into question after the court has given its decision.

“We therefore outline in detail both the expert medical evidence and the social work evidence given in this case, along with the judge’s ruling.”

A different report outlines the case of an African family where there were allegations of excessive physical discipline being used against the children.

The CCLRP commented on this case saying: “Again, we feel this is an important issue, especially as it has arisen in a number of cases attended by our reporters.

“In this case the children are now in the process of being returned to their parents, who are participating in a parenting programme with the HSE.

The CCLRP also published the latest statistics from the Courts Service on child care applications in the District Court, which show an increase of 15 per cent, up from 8,109 in 2011 to 9,315 in 2012.

They said: “These should be treated with caution and they do not represent the number of children taken into care, as many are repeat applications involving the same child.”

Their statement added: “One of the striking features of these statistics is that the volume of applications varies greatly between towns of roughly similar size.

“For example, the town of Letterkenny is approximately the same size as Carlow and not much bigger than Tullamore, yet there were 229 child care applications in Letterkenny in 2012, compared with 10 in Carlow and nine in Tullamore.”

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