UK

Roma Prejudice Like Nazi Germany, Travellers Say After 'Maria Case' And Ireland Blunder

24/10/2013 11:12 BST | Updated 24/10/2013 12:14 BST

The outcry over 'blonde-haired, blue-eyed' children living in gypsy camps is like something from Nazi Germany, according to a travellers' representative.

Matthew Brindley, policy manager of the Irish Traveller Movement, said different physical appearances were being compared and deemed "incompatible" after the "media frenzy" surrounding the girl found living in a Greek Roma camp.

He was speaking after Irish police removed a girl from her Roma parents - only for DNA tests to show she was their daughter.

TOP STORIES TODAY

A high level investigation is underway into why the girl, and a blond boy living in another part of Ireland who was also returned to his parents, were taken from their families. The country's justice minister has insisted the authorities were acting in good faith.

But Brindley told HuffPost UK: "We are very concerned and think it is completely unacceptable that the police or social services act without clear and definitive information with regards to a case of removing a child from a family."

He asked whether the Greek episode had been a factor in the child's removal, adding: "We would express serious concern about the authorities being influenced by what we would describe as a media frenzy regarding the events in Greece which is still in the courts."

The two children have been strongly linked in the media, with the Daily Star receiving a barrage of criticism for reporting both incidents with front page headlines referring to "Maddie", even though it was clear neither was the missing British toddler.

Brindley said a large amount of the reporting was "driven by stereotypes", adding: "Seriously, we as a society have moved beyond such a simple way of viewing ethnicity and people's backgrounds.

"It's completely unacceptable to focus on ethnicity, and play two people's ethnicities off against each other as if they are not compatible.

"This is something that you would expect in Nazi Germany, which is worrying."