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Social Services in Ireland and the Roma Community


On October 21st 2013, a child was removed from her parents’ home in Tallaght by the Gards. On October 22nd it was reported that a 7-year old blonde haired, blue eyed girl was removed from the care of her parents and family home… because a question had been raised regarding her parentage. She did not look like her mum and dad. This followed the hype when a child was removed from a Roma family in Greece. This child proved to be from a different set of parents. And so a global wide witch-hunt commenced! The child from Tallaght was later returned to her parents after it was found that they were in fact her biological parents.

On Tuesday 22nd October a 2-year old boy was removed from his home by the Gards, after questions were raised about his parentage. Apparently, this child did not bear a striking resemblance to his parents either. A full line of enquiry was conducted and this child was eventually returned home.

Such cases beg the question: is there an active and fully functional social services system in Ireland, and is it actually fit for purpose?

This question is posed in response to the disastrous and horrific handling of these cases by the HSE. Removing a child from the care of their parents and family unit due to their appearance. Really? Harsh statements some might think. Not true. Any parent would sympathise with the families in question. Having a child removed from the family home in such circumstances would no doubt be heartbreaking and totally disturbing for the child involved. Such cases call into question the matter of protocol by the HSE. Words that spring to mind in relation to this case are ‘disastrous’, ‘disrespectful’, ‘uncaring’, ‘unfeeling’ and ‘cruel’. Any family would reason and conclude that having a child removed from the family unit could have dire and disastrous consequences, mainly for the child.

Since when did caring parents become the monsters? We regularly hear of cases where those responsible for actual child abuse go unpunished. Why is there such an unsatisfactory system of monitoring the true abusers in our society?

A Government funded and operated organisation such as the HSE should operate under strict guidelines and supervision to make sure that the best service and support is given to the young and vulnerable in our society. Removing a child from the safe haven of their family because of their appearance, or the report of an interfering party, is not acceptable. These families, and therefore the whole of Ireland, need answers to such a disastrous action on the part of the state authorities.