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Ireland: Romani family compensated for hysteria around blond child

24.10.2015 8:07
The police station in the Irish town of Athlone where, in 2013, a two-year-old Romani boy was taken away from his parents because he is blond. (PHOTO:  Google Maps)
The police station in the Irish town of Athlone where, in 2013, a two-year-old Romani boy was taken away from his parents because he is blond. (PHOTO: Google Maps)

Compensation of more than EUR 60 000 has been awarded to the family of a blond Romani boy in Ireland after he was taken away from his family for no reason in October 2013. Social workers mistakenly believed the boy was not the biological son of his parents.

The authorities were responding to hysteria in the global media over reports that a blonde girl had been discovered living with a Romani family in Greece who was not their biological child. Judge Paul McDermott, according to the online news server of the Irish Times, said the boy in Ireland had been traumatized by being taken away from his family for one day but that the experience had not had a lasting influence on him.

The judge proposed compensation in the amount of EUR 60 000, which in his opinion corresponds to the damage suffered by the boy, who is now four years old. The boy attended the hearing on Monday together with his parents.

The family will also not have to pay any of the costs associated with bringing the lawsuit. The boy was two years old when he was taken away from his family.

He was returned the next day after DNA tests proved he was actually their son. The incident was not the only such misstep by Irish authorities at the time.

Police in Dublin, for example, also took a seven-year-old blonde girl away from another Romani couple that fall. The police said they were uncertain whether the girl was actually the biological daughter of the couple.

DNA tests proved she was and the authorities returned the girl to her family. At the time there was hysteria in Europe sparked by the discovery of the blonde girl named Maria living with a Romani couple in central Greece.

DNA tests showed that the couple were just pretending to be Maria's biological parents. It was then ascertained that her biological mother is a Romani woman from Bulgaria.

The girl was left with the Romani couple by her biological parents in Greece in 2009 because they did not have the money to continue caring for her. The Greek couple who raised the girl for four years ended up in prison after being convicted of abduction and falsifying documents. 

ryz, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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hysteria, Ireland, Média, Policie, Soud



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