'Discrimination forces Roma to live on the margins'
THE Roma community hopes that the tragic case of Marioara Rostas will help change the way Irish people view the ethnic minority.
Community development officer Gabi Muntean said there was an underlying belief that members of the Roma community decide to beg instead of seeking employment when in reality taking to the streets is their only option.
"When Marioara Rostas came to Ireland she had no help whatsoever, a lot of Roma women who beg on the streets, they are actually forced into doing that
"We are human beings as well and we don't have to allow that to happen again," said the Pavee Point worker.
On Thursday Dublin criminal Alan Wilson was cleared of the murder of the 18-year-old, who was shot in the head four times and whose body was dumped in the Wicklow Mountains and lay undiscovered in a grave there for four years.
Marioara had only been in the State a short time in 2008 when she went missing while begging for money from passing motorists at the junction of Lombard Street and Pearse Street in Dublin's south inner city.
Ms Muntean was speaking in Dublin yesterday at an event to mark Roma Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Pavee Point director Ronnie Fay, who also attended the event, said the cruel fate of the young woman "showed the reality that Roma come to Ireland to try and survive and that they are forced to beg to try and survive".
Ms Fay said that approximately 5000 members of the Roma community are currently living in Ireland. She said they often do not meet the criteria or have difficult proving that they are legible for the habitual residence condition benefit.
According to the charity, the 'right to reside' test introduced in December 2009 is having an extremely negative impact on the Roma community.
Discrimination in education and in the workplace make it difficult for Roma to demonstrate a strong pattern of employment in the formal workforce, while low literacy levels and language barriers make it extremely difficult for applicants to respond to the Department of Social Protection.
During her brief time in the country, Marioara lived in a derelict property in Donabate in north Co Dublin.
Hoping for a better life she joined more than a dozen adults and a small number of children living in a property which had no sanitation, no electricity, no running water, and half the roof missing.
"The majority of Roma in Ireland are living on the margins, we may not be gassing the Roma today but we are denying them the oxygen of having the right to an education, healthcare and secure accommodation," added Ms Fay.