Roma parents insist blonde child is their daughter

The couple claimed the child was born in the Coombe hospital in Dublin in 2006
Image caption The couple claimed the child was born in the Coombe hospital in Dublin in 2006

Relatives of a blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl taken into care in the Republic of Ireland, have insisted she is a member of their family.

Police removed the seven-year-old girl from the home of a Roma family in the Tallaght area of Dublin on Monday.

The parents told police the child was their daughter, but officers were not satisfied with the explanation nor with the documents that were produced.

A woman family member was adamant that the girl was her sister.

The police action took place against the background of international interest in the case of a blonde-haired child being taken from a Roma family in Greece last week.

Greek police are investigating whether the girl had been abducted.

Irish police child care officers who called to the house in Tallaght on Monday, took the girl into care.

When police arrived at the family's home, they said they saw a number of children, including the seven-year-old girl, who had blonde hair and blue eyes.

A woman, who said she was a sister of the child, told Sunday World reporters: "She is my sister. She is blonde [with] blue eyes."

She gave a date of birth of the child in the Coombe Hospital in Dublin.

A birth certificate was produced by the parents but officers were not satisfied with it.

The paper reported that although the couple said the child was born in the Coombe hospital in Dublin in 2006, the hospital appeared to have no record of the child being born on the date quoted by the parents.

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Media captionDublin residents said they were shocked by the news

The child was removed from the family under powers in the Child Care Act.

She is now in the care of the Health Service Executive (HSE).

It is standard procedure in such cases for tests to be carried out to determine who the child belongs to.

Police had been had been told that a six or seven-year-old girl was living with a large Roma family and looked nothing like any of her siblings.

There has been some criticism of reporting of the case.

Dezideriu Gergely, executive director of the European Roma Rights Centre, told RTE, Ireland's state broadcaster, that links being made to a case in Greece "had been made prematurely".

Mr Gergely said it was important to remember that not all Roma were dark-skinned and many did have pale skin and blonde hair.

Images apparently released by members of the Roma family to the Irish press have thrown some doubt on just how distinctive the child in question is.

The Immigrant Council of Ireland said the Irish government should immediately outline what procedures are in place across all public services to prevent racial profiling.

"Ireland has already been warned by a Council of Europe report in February about the need to prevent racial profiling, and the events of the past week have done little to reassure migrants that this has taken place," the council's Denise Charlton.

Meanwhile, a two-year-old boy from a Roma family who was briefly taken into care in County Westmeath has been reunited with his parents.

The boy was taken from his family on Tuesday in Athlone and returned a day later.

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