TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has rejected suggestions of institutionalised racism in the gardai on foot of the debacle over Roma children being removed from their parents.
"No . . . this is about children," he said. "It should not be about any group of children, any minority group of children, any categorisation of children.
"It is about children – and there is a very careful balance to be struck here, between information being made available that might give rise to concerns about welfare and health, and the law of the land.
"Clearly, I am very happy that these two children have been returned to their natural parents.
"I don't accept at all that there would be any institutionalised racial tendencies within the gardai."
Meanwhile, new powers have been given to Children's Ombudsman Emily Logan to investigate the circumstances surrounding the garda decision to remove two children from separate Roma families.
The move allows Ms Logan to launch her own investigation.
The Ombudsman had been asked by Justice Minister Alan Shatter to review the two internal reports, which had been requested by him and Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald from the gardai and the HSE.
However, she has decided to carry out her own "independent and impartial" investigation and this will begin immediately into the role played by the HSE. Her inquiries into the garda role will not get under way for a few weeks as she has to wait for the terms of reference to be drawn up by Mr Shatter.
But until yesterday, Ms Logan did not even have the power to inquire into the garda role. Now she has been given special powers by Mr Shatter, but these can only be applied to the current investigation.