Mother wins battle to prove girl is Irish

A SIX-YEAR-OLD African girl has been saved from an African orphanage after a DNA test proved her mother’s story that her father was an Irish soldier on UN duty in Eritrea.

Since 2003, her mother, Martha Woldu Hagos, has been protesting her daughter’s Irish identity, but the department wanted approval "by formal means". A DNA test was eventually carried out last year.

The Department of Foreign Affairs had refused to accept Martina Padwick was the daughter of Martin Padwick, a soldier from Cork who died in 2002 after returning from a United Nations peacekeeping mission in Asmara, the Eritrean capital.

Martha Woldu Hagos met Padwick while working in the kitchen at the UN compound in Asmara.

Ms Hagos told a Sunday newspaper she was overjoyed her daughter’s identity had been acknowledged.

"The DFA wrote to me last week to say the DNA test had proved that Martin was Martina’s father. I don’t know what to say, I am so happy. Actually, I am the happiest woman in the whole of Eritrea right now."

Ms Hagos’ Irish solicitor, Anthony Joyce, of Dublin-based law firm Anthony Joyce & Co, said Ms Hagos had suffered discrimination in her native country because of giving birth to a foreign child.

"For all of her life Martina has been living in poverty in Eritrea and her mother, Martha, has suffered discrimination for being the mother of a foreign child. Their situation was so desperate Martina was close to having to give her daughter to a local orphanage to ensure her wellbeing." Labour party spokesman on military affairs Brian O’Shea criticised the department, saying no citizen should have had to wait seven years for citizenship.