Interim Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan has apologised to two Roma families after officers put their children into care over fears they had been abducted.
She said every parent in the country could identify with the distress they were put through when their children were taken from them.
“Hurt was experienced, and it’s important, not just to apologise on behalf of the police service, but to express the concerns of each of our members over what happened. Because we in An Garda Siochana are all about protecting vulnerable children. We really are,” she said.
Commissioner O’Sullivan said seeking a child care order is not taken lightly.
“In order to protect children, such decisions often have to be made quickly, in highly pressurised, stressful and unusual situations, and with imperfect information,” she said.
“That’s what happened in these cases: gardaí set out to protect children – and the unintended consequences were distressing.”
Commissioner O’Sullivan said it was not an excuse to say officers were acting in the best interests of the children.
“It’s a reality. As is the fact that something along these lines mustn’t ever happen again. Lessons must, and will, be learnt,” she said.