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'Roma kids forced to beg'

REPRESENTATIVES of the Roma community hope 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 is 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 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.

Marioara had only been in Ireland for 18 days when she went missing in 2008 as she was begging for money from passing motorists in Dublin.

Ms Muntean was speaking in Dublin yesterday at an event to mark Roma Holocaust Remembrance Day for victims of the Nazi regime.

Pavee Point director Ronnie Fay said Marioara's fate "showed the reality that Roma come to Ireland to try and survive and that they are forced to beg to try and survive."

DIFFICULTY

The director said that there are approximately 5,000 members of the Roma community currently living in Ireland and that many are unable to avail of social welfare protection as they do not meet the proper criteria.

According to the charity, the 'right to reside' test introduced in December 2009 is having a really negative impact on the Roma community here.

It also says discrimination in education and in the workplace make it difficult for Roma, while low literacy levels and language barriers also cause difficulties.

"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 accommodation," added Ms Fay.

hnews@herald.ie


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