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Monday 26 February 2018

Gardai took Roma child (2) without telling the HSE

Iancu Muntean (2) was taken from his parents in Athlone
Iancu Muntean (2) was taken from his parents in Athlone
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

AN APPARENT breakdown in communication between the gardai and the HSE in the cases of the two Roma children taken from their families has been described as "worrying" by an opposition spokesman.

Robert Troy TD, Fianna Fail's spokesman on children, last night said that "lessons need to be learned" from the findings of a HSE report into the two cases last month where blond Roma children were taken from their dark-haired parents.

Mr Troy was responding to a report on the details of an investigation by the HSE's national director for children and family services, Gordon Jeyes.

Mr Jeyes examined both cases where Roma children were separated from their families and said a contributing factor was a breakdown in communication between gardai and the HSE.

The children were taken by the authorities last month after members of the public raised concerns amid the publicity surrounding a similar case in Greece where a blond child found with a Roma family was suspected to be a kidnap victim.

Mr Jeyes found that the HSE only became aware of the case of Iancu Muntean (2), a day after he was taken from his family home in Athlone.

Local social workers were out of the loop because gardai used an emergency HSE helpline to report the case and a private company secured foster care for him overnight.

According to details of Mr Jeyes's investigation, reported in the media yesterday, the HSE quickly moved to have the boy reunited with his family once it became aware of the case.

KIDNAPPING

In the case of the seven-year-old girl taken from her family in Tallaght, Mr Jeyes questions why HSE social workers didn't question garda actions after they were told officers were investigating a suspected kidnapping.

Mr Troy last night said: "There appears to have been no inter-agency co-operation in relation to these instances and that is worrying." He said there is a need for "a clear framework to be put in place" for how agencies interact in cases of child welfare.

The HSE last night refused to comment on the reported details of Mr Jeyes's findings other than to say his report has been submitted to Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald.

The gardai did not respond to Irish Independent questions on the report last night.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter has received separate reports on both cases from the Garda Commissioner, which are to be forwarded to the Children's Ombudsman for examination.

Mr Troy called for the reports to be published after consultation with the children's parents.

Irish Independent

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