Fianna Fáil TD for Longford-Westmeath, Robert Troy, has called on the Minister for Justice to introduce a timeline for the implementation of the recommendations contained in a Children’s Ombudsman’s report into the cases of two Roma children who were taken from their families by authorities last year.
“This report highlights the need for enhanced co-operation between the Gardaí and State agencies working in the area of child protection,” Deputy Troy said. “The lack of clear protocols led to a vacuum between the various authorities, creating confusion and uncertainty.
“There’s been an abject failure by this Government to put the Children’s First guidelines on a statutory footing. This document puts a clear framework in place for inter-agency co-operation and would alleviate the current inconsistent approach to information sharing, which has led to situations in Tallaght and Athlone.
The Longford-Westmeath representative went on to say that, “These families could have been spared the anguish and distress they were put through had the Gardaí more access to information held by the HSE with regard to the families at the centre of these cases. The Minister needs to ensure that all agencies, including the HSE and the Child and Family Agency, can share information with respect to children whose identities are questioned.
“These recommendations need to be acted on without delay. I’m calling on Minister Fitzgerald to outline a timeline for the successful implementation of each of the recommendations in order to ensure that no other families are forced to endure the anxiety and stress of the families at the centre of these cases”.
The ombudsman’s report found that physical dissimilarities between parents and their children do not constitute a reasonable basis for suspecting that such children have been abducted, and states that the actions of the Gardaí in these cases conformed to the definition of ethnic profiling. Eight recommendations have been put forward to ensure better handling of child protection issues.