Taoiseach: Roma are not being singled out
on 25/10/2013 00:00:00
Responding to the cases that have caused widespread concern about the treatment of individuals based on their race, Mr Kenny said: "This is a case of the safety and centrality of children as distinct from any categorisation of a sector or a minority grouping."
But a number of TDs strongly criticised what they said was blatant discrimination or "racist profiling" - or the use of someone's race by law enforcers.
Independent TD Clare Daly accused the Government of "minimising" the situations. "These children were taken from their parents for one reason only: That they were Roma and that they didn't look like their parents," she said.
She told the Dáil gardaí were keeping information about Traveller children on their pulse system, for no other reason than racial profiling.
Labour TD, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said politicians and journalists have created a "climate of fear" that is undermining and dehumanising the Roma and Traveller communities.
"What is really at the core of this whole episode, this whole circus, has been a pure raw, naked, poisonous, racism that lies at the heart of Irish society," he said.
Sinn Féin's Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said it was "a naked and blunt case of racial profiling".
He said children can only be removed from the home if there is an immediate risk to their health or safety. "If there was an immediate risk, then all children would have been removed from the home, not just those with blonde hair and blue eyes," he said.
But Justice Minister Alan Shatter, warned TDs against pre-judging the outcome of two internal reports on the issue by the gardaí and the HSE.
He said TDs had "reached conclusions, and the conclusion is that there was racism involved and the gardaí were involved in racial profiling".
"You can't call for an independent inquiry and at the same time reach conclusions about why events have occurred," he said.
Earlier, Mr Shatter said he was anxious to ensure that no group or minority community is "singled out for unwarranted attention" or suspicion following this week's events.
Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said the cases were "very disturbing" and there are some "basic questions" that must be answered.
"There can be no discrimination, there can be no targeting," he told the Dáil.
"Every child in this country irrespective of their ethnic background, their religious background or any other background, enjoys the same rights," he said.