THE Government is being pressed to ensure that racial profiling is not being used by the gardai or the HSE in child welfare cases.
The call was made by the Immigrant Council of Ireland after two children were taken from Roma families living here amid suspicion they did not belong to those families – only for them to later be returned.
Immigrant Council chief executive Denise Charlton said the cases raised questions over whether minorities were being subjected to excessive attention from gardai and public services.
She said assurances were now needed to allay those fears.
"Ireland has already been warned by a Council of Europe report about the need to prevent racial profiling, and the events of the past week have done little to reassure migrants that this has taken place," she said.
"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 50pc of social welfare checks as part of a new crackdown on fraud.
"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."
She said robust anti-racism policies and procedures were key to ensuring fair access to and delivery of public services, and called for the Government to outline what procedures were in place to reassure people, both Irish and migrant, that no one need fear being targeted because of their background, belief or colour of their skin.
And the Traveller and Roma support group Pavee Point expressed fears such incidents will fuel discrimination against the Roma community.
The group said it was vital to determine if the actions of the gardai and the HSE were warranted and consistent with the protection of the rights of children and their families in Ireland.
In a statement, it said: "What evidence did child authorities have that justified their decision to remove Roma children from their families and was this evidence sufficient for authorities to act in such haste?
"Why were children removed from their families as a measure of first rather than last resort?
"Is there a danger that racial profiling and recent international media discourse influenced the actions of state authorities?"