Roma family in 'blond' row had history of child concerns
THE Roma family whose daughter with blond hair and blue eyes was taken from them over concerns that she wasn't a biological relation previously came to the attention of authorities over child-protection concerns, it has been revealed.
The removal of the seven-year-old child from her family in Tallaght generated an international media storm after a similar case in Greece made headlines around the world.
New details of the case have emerged among several reports published by the Child Care Law Reporting Project (CCLRP).
The CCLRP account of the case covers two hearings, one where an Emergency Care order was sought by the HSE and the second where the court was told that the DNA tests proved she was a biological member of the family.
A garda told the court that concerns about the child were first raised by an Estonian.
They said that colleagues had first come into contact with the family three to four years ago in relation to another daughter -- now 18 -- who was pregnant.
It had been a child-protection matter, the garda said, and that case was closed when girl had her child.
The court heard that the family came to the attention of social workers again in 2012 and were given support in relation to younger children in 2012 and that case was also closed.
The officer also revealed that the father had a conviction for traffic offences and the mother was convicted of theft. The family had a community guard assigned to them.
He said they weren't satisfied with the documentation provided by the parents to prove that the girl was their daughter.
Gardai also had concerns about the child leaving the jurisdiction if she was left with her parents.
The officer explained that gardai worked with immigrant communities in the local area but said: "I'm afraid I cannot see any option within the Roma community at the moment for ensuring this child would remain in the jurisdiction."
However, the garda denied that their ethnicity played a role in the decision to take the child, saying: "If a child is at risk I deal with it irrespective of culture, ethnicity or creed."
Asked about removing the child, the garda said he had "no doubt that she was very attached to the parents and she was upset" but said that the decision was based "on the welfare of the child" and the risk that she could leave the jurisdiction.
The report outlines how the girl's parents both insisted in court that the child was theirs and pointed out that they had other children with blue eyes.
The mother was asked by the HSE's barrister if anyone had ever suggested she did not look like the rest of the family before.
The mother replied: "They said they wondered because she is very beautiful but they didn't say she is not my daughter."
Ultimately at the end of the first hearing, the parents consented to their daughter remaining in foster care for another night pending DNA tests that were due back the following day.
The tests confirmed that she is their biological daughter and the girl was returned to her family.
The judge in the case decided to allow the family to make a statement to the press because he believed the 'in-camera' nature of the proceedings had been breached.
He said: "It is in the interests of the family themselves and of the child in the family that the family's view be put on the record."