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Roma abduction case sparks second alert

Irish police remove blonde girl from a Roma house following a tip-off similar to case in Greece.

Last Modified: 23 Oct 2013 00:13
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The Irish case emerged after a Roma couple in Greece were charged with abducting a blonde girl [EPA]

Irish authorities have removed a child from a Roma family in Dublin, police and a charity said, in a case that has sparked comparisons with the 'blonde angel' affair in Greece.

Police on Tuesday said a child was taken from a house in Tallaght, just outside Dublin, on Monday under the provisions of the 1991 Child Care Act and put in the care of the health service.

Pavee Point, a charity which campaigns for Irish Traveller rights, confirmed that a Roma family was involved, although it warned against jumping to conclusions.

The case emerged days after a Roma couple in Greece were charged with abducting a blonde girl found in their care.

The Sunday World newspaper said the Dublin child was a seven-year-old girl with blonde hair and blue eyes who was taken from her family due to concerns they were not related.

Police took action after receiving a tip-off from a member of the public who noticed she looked nothing like the rest of her family, the tabloid said.

Her parents say she their daughter was born in 2006. They have a birth certificate and a passport.

But the documents failed to satisfy police, and DNA tests may now be conducted, the newspaper said.

Under Irish law, the girl can be kept in the care of the health service for a month before a final decision must be made to return her or seek a permanent care order.

The Health Service Executive refused to confirm the details, stating it does not comment on individual cases.

Siobhan Curran, Roma project coordinator at Pavee Point, told AFP that the family involved were Roma.

But the charity warned against "witch-hunts" against the community, saying it hoped the authorities were prioritising the best wishes of the child.

"Pavee Point are concerned about witch-hunts against a vulnerable community and old stereotypes of an entire community being propagated in the media coverage of this development," it said in a statement.

"Actions by the state need to be evidence-based and due process needs to be accorded to all communities living in Ireland.

"There is a real danger that precipitative action, undertaken on the basis of appearance, can create the conditions for an increase in racism and discrimination against the Roma community living here."

The discovery of the girl in Greece, known as Maria and dubbed the "blonde angel" by local media, has prompted thousands of calls from parents of missing children from around the world.

She was initially thought to be four years old, but later confirmed from dental checks to be five or six.

DNA tests revealed she was not related to her "parents", a 39-year-old Roma man and his 40-year-old wife.

The couple deny they abducted her.

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AFP
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