Romany journalist Jake Bowers spoke to Seán O’Rourke this morning on RTÉ Radio One to talk about Gardaí having taken two blonde-haired Roma children away from their respective families on suspicion that they were not the children of their parents. Both children were later returned.
The interview started off with O’Rourke asking Bowers what he thought of the events over the last week.
Jake Bowers: “It hasn’t been a great week for Ireland’s international reputation when it comes to the nuances of the integration of migrant communities or it’s treatment, actually, of that Romany or the Irish Traveller community. I mean it’s been spectacular kind of what’s happened here. You’ve seen a butterfly beat its wings in Greece and it’s turned into a storm of bureaucratic incompetence in Ireland where you have people informing a journalist, anonymously, via Facebook, who’s then informed Gardaí who’ve gone and traumatised families, requiried DNA samples from them like some kind of policing out of the Jeremy Kyle Show, traumatised children, traumatised Romany families, all in the name of protecting children. I mean it’s bizarre, Orwellian and strange. And it hasn’t been a good week for Ireland’s international reputation in the treatment of minorities.”
Seán O’Rourke: “I presume part of the thinking that informed the decision of the Gardaí and the Health Services Executive was that because there was a doubt, the whole core of these cases was whether they were, the children were with their natural parents, that there was a fear that they might have moved on or something like that.”
Bowers: “Well yeah. And listen, child welfare is paramount. It’s paramount to anybody who is intelligent and civilised and it’s particularly paramount to people within the Roma community. Something you have to remember here is that a lot of these actions from the Gardaí were based on asking a consultant, who clearly knew nothing about Roma community ‘is it likely that a Romany family can have a blonde child?’. And you can’t see me because it’s radio but I have blonde hair and blue eyes and I’m from a Romany family. So there’s a staggering amount of ignorance and incompetence led to this. But of course they were duty bound to investigate it but they, what they did is they went in with a sledgehammer and cracked a nut that didn’t need to be cracked, so it’s very bad news for the family.”
Previously: Different Standards
Pic: Daily Mail