independent

Monday 21 April 2014

‘Traumatised and sent to school’ – Roma criticise treatment of girl (7)

Members of the Roma community support the family of the child who was taken into care.

THE family of the little girl at the centre of a care case today said she is “very traumatised”.

They claim the seven-year-old was sent to school by State officials yesterday as the story sparked international headlines.

A birth certificate now appears to back up the Roma family’s assertions that the child is theirs.

“We know she is our child, we have no doubts,” her 18-year-old sister told the Herald today .

As they await DNA tests, gardai were beginning to concede that the child is “most likely” their daughter.

“In probability there has been a mistake,” a source said.

Meanwhile, a second child taken from a Roma family in Athlone late last night has been returned to them.

It is believed she was in care for a matter of hours.

The girl’s sister said it is the first time the girl has been away from her family.

“I have not seen her in three days.

We've asked to speak to her and they have said no.”

The family have been told the girl “is very sad and very traumatised”.

“She is very traumatised and very confused as well. They took her just because she has blue eyes and blonde hair. If you go over to Romania, people – most of them – have blue eyes as well. It's not easy for her,” the sister added.

The family, who live in Tallaght, say the girl has five siblings. The little girl spent her second night with a care family after DNA swabs were taken from the parents.

She was taken from the Roma family in the southside suburb by gardai on Monday after suspicions arose as to whether she belonged to them.

The family produced a passport for the girl but the photograph used was of a small child and could not be immediately matched with the girl.

Investigation

The girl’s first name on the birth record differs from the name used by the girl but it was accepted that this was not unusual and was not a factor in the investigation.

Gardai were also told by the family, who have other children, that the girl was born at the Coombe Hospital in 2006 but preliminary checks could not confirm this.

The girl’s sister has insisted she is a biological member of the family who has been wrongly removed from them.

The little girl has blonde hair and blue eyes, making the case similar to the story of the little girl named Maria who was taken from a Roma family in Greece over the weekend.

A second sister described the moment up to 20 gardai and social workers arrived at their home. She said the girl was watching television when the authorities called.

She said they had come from Romania in 2001 but had lived in Tallaght since 2009.

“She's a great girl, very cute, she likes to sing and dance,” the young woman explained.

Angry

“My little brother also has blonde hair and blue eyes. We are all upset and angry, because it is a mistake, we just don't know how is it possible to take a child from her house,” said the 21-year-old woman.

“I think she was taken because she is slightly different, she has blonde hair and blue eyes. I think she has been taken because it is like the case in Greece. This has never happened us before.

“We don't know where she is now and we are scared about this, we want my sister back,” said the young woman.

When asked if she thought her parents might take legal action if it was proven that the girl was theirs, she replied: “Yes, it is a big mistake.”

She said the family had been subjected to abuse and targeted by thugs after they arrived in Tallaght, but did not know who was targeting them.

Neighbours said they knew the little girl to see and it had long been recognised that she has a different appearance to her parents.

”The little girl has been with them since they moved here around four or five years ago, but she has blonde hair and blue eyes,” said one man.

Irish Independent

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