Tallaght parents of blonde girl take action over daughter’s unlawful removal in Oct 2013
By Chinedu Onyejelem
The family of a Roma schoolgirl who was unlawfully taken away from her home in south Dublin two years ago is seeking over €1m in damages, Metro Éireann has learned.
The father, mother and the girl – both collectively and individually – are understood to be suing the State after filing cases against a number of State establishments.
Joined in the case, our investigations have revealed, are the Garda Commissioner, the child and family agency Tusla, the HSE and the attorney general, all of which have entered appearance with the State.
As Metro Éireann understands, the family is arguing that the manner in which the then seven-year-old Roma girl was taken into care for a number of days devastated and traumatised the child and her family alike.
The family is also believed to be seeking compensation for psychological injury and racial profiling caused as a result of the removal.
Metro Éireann first highlighted a potential case against the Government and State agencies in November 2013. A source in Tallaght told this paper at the time that a case could be brought on the basis that “there were no reasonable grounds to take away the child”.
Gardaí removed the Roma girl from her family on 21 October 2013. She was returned to her parents two days later following DNA tests confirming her biological link with her parents.
It came in the wake of a series of similar incidents involving Roma children across Europe, prompted by the controversial removal of a blonde, blue-eyed girl named ‘Maria’ from a Roma couple in Greece.
DNA results connected that child to a Bulgarian Roma woman who told the authorities that she gave the girl away to the Greek couple, who were accused of child abduction and of fraudulently obtaining documents for 14 other children.
A second Roma child, a two-year-old boy taken from a family in Athlone a day after the Tallaght incident, was returned to his parents in a matter of hours. The family sued the State for over €100,000 but was recently awarded €60,000.
A source told Metro Éireann then that the Roma family in Tallaght was “well known to the authorities for a long time” and added that the actions of gardaí and the HSE were “a terrible mistake”.
The source also said that the girl’s identity could have easily been checked with her public health nurse, school teacher and principal, or the family GP.
Members of Ireland’s ethnic groups observed that the case raised “serious questions about the level of Garda investigations and the presentation of cases in court”.
At press time, Metro Éireann was awaiting a response from solicitors for the Roma family.
But solicitor Waheed Mudah previously said in a statement immediately following the incident that the family “do not accept that there was any sufficient basis to take their daughter away from them causing her and them the upset which has been caused.”