Wednesday 26 October 2016

Damned if they did and damned if they didn't...

Published 25/10/2013 | 21:30

Eye of the storm: Two-year-old Iancu Muntean Jnr with his mum, Loredaiva, outside their home in Athlone
Eye of the storm: Two-year-old Iancu Muntean Jnr with his mum, Loredaiva, outside their home in Athlone

Well, that was a pretty spectacular omnishambles, was it not? Once the news of the apparent case of child abduction by a Roma family in Greece grabbed the headlines, it was perhaps inevitable that we would see an increase in reports of similar cases.

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What few could have predicted would be that Ireland would become, briefly, the next international port of scrutiny as the world's press reported from Tallaght about how another blond, suspiciously Aryan-looking, child had apparently become the latest example of a kid kidnapped by a child-trafficking gang.

It all seemed very cosy, easy and all too convenient and when a story looks too good to be true, there's usually a good reason for that.

And so it proved, rather quickly, to be the case in Tallaght and then Athlone.

There are few more disgraceful violations of anybody's right to a family life than instruments of the State turning up and taking one of your kids away.

In the case of a Roma family, this obviously has even more sinister redolence, given the fact that the Roma suffered second only to the Jews during the Holocaust, or Porajmos as many of them call it.

Now, any time the Holocaust is invoked in a debate about modern social issues is usually a sign that whoever brought it up has already lost the argument.

After all, we have seen the single most shameful episode in human history debased and sullied as it has been used to describe everything from the Israeli treatment of the Palestinians to, closer to home and my personal favourite, when the taxi industry was deregulated and once coveted taxi plates became useless overnight.

But you don't have to be Roma, or one of their State-funded lackeys, to feel rather queasy at the thoughts of children being taken from their parents on the grounds that they have a different hair colour.

Forget about eugenics, this is hairgenics, and it is both morally absurd and scientifically retarded to assume there are no recessive blond genes in the predominantly dark Roma DNA.

After all, I'd be what was once known as 'black Irish' but have family members with different hair, skin and eye colour.

In fact, recessive genetics is a truly fascinating field that, when examined, throws up enough scientific evidence to thoroughly repudiate the redundant stupidity of racism.

But the people who are complaining about the treatment of the two families are missing the point when they complain about so-called racial profiling; because this isn't about race. If anything, it is simply about cultural ignorance and mutual misunderstanding.

This country has a well earned international reputation for treating its children as little more than slave labour or sex toys by the State – when it bothers to pay them any attention at all.

In a typically Irish example of doublethink, we have seen thousands of children abandoned to an uncertain fate in industrial schools and other internment camps where they were abandoned to the depraved whims of the men and women who looked after them – many of these carers were good and decent people; others were sadistic psychopaths who, by rights, should have been in jail or an asylum for the criminally insane.

Then, on the other hand, we've seen numerous cases of appalling physical and sexual abuse of children in the home when the State has refused to intervene on the spurious grounds that what goes on behind closed doors stays behind closed doors.

Most recently, the so-called 'House Of Horrors' in the midlands was allowed to go on unchecked for so long because the instruments of the State were so reluctant to interfere in what was seen as a family matter.

That case, which seemed to drag a little piece of 1950s into our present existence, was so horrific that even my Catholic friends were forced to publicly distance themselves from the fringe religious group who had so controversially given the father advice.

So, given the already poisoned history of our child protection record, it is hard not to feel a touch of sympathy for the child-care authorities in the wake of all the justified rancour and condemnation that has been raining down on their heads.

Because they were damned if they did and damned if they didn't.

True, they should have done their homework more thoroughly, but we live in an age where two loud declamations ring throughout society: "It shouldn't be allowed!" and "Something should be done!" – it doesn't seem to matter what shouldn't be allowed or what should be done about any given issue. But as long as people say it, they feel better about themselves.

I wager anyone to wade through the Irish media, print and broadcast, without encountering either of those phrases.

And so the child-care authorities responded to the public refrain of 'something should be done' by doing something. And they promptly got it wrong.

But if they had stayed away, through a combination of political correctness and administrative inertia, and something had happened to the children, then heads would have rolled and lawsuits would have been filed. And rightly so.

This was undoubtedly a mistake by them, but ask yourself this – would you prefer someone's mistake to result in official embarrassment or a dead kid?

And that goes equally for all, regardless of colour, creed or ethnicity.

Irish Independent

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