A seven-year-old girl has been taken by gardai from a Roma family in Dublin, who claimed to be her parents.
The blonde haired and blue eyed girl is now being looked after by the HSE.
Gardai called to a house in Tallaght in south county Dublin yesterday afternoon after they received a report that the girl was living there with a Roma family.
The couple claimed that the girl was their daughter and said she had been born in 2006.
But garda checks at Dublin city hospitals failed to produce any evidence to back up the claim and the girl's birth certificate could not be found.
Senior sources said that “serious issues around the birth certificate of the child which suggests that the Roma couple may not be her parents”.
Gardai also consulted experts to establish if it was physically possible for a Roma couple to give birth to a girl with blonde hair and blue eyes.
Using powers available under section 12 of the Child Care Act, a garda sergeant took the girl from the couple and handed her over to the HSE.
An application for an emergency child care order was made this morning in the district court.
The girl can be kept in the care of the HSE for another month and the authorities must then either hand the girl back to the family or seek a more permanent care order.
In the meantime, gardai hope to take DNA samples from the parents and from the girl to establish if they are related.
Gardai said this afternoon that inquiries were continuing to establish the identity of the girl.
The Tallaght case is similar to the current controversy in Greece where police have taken a little girl, known as Maria, into care and arrested a couple, who claimed to be her parents.
Gardai said there have no arrests in the Tallaght case.
The Roma couple, who have other children, have been living in the area for some time.
A spokeswoman for the HSE told The Herald she had received a large number of media queries about the matter but “no information” will be disclosed in childcare cases.
The case is remarkably similar to that of Maria – the young girl who has made international headlines after it was discovered that she was not the child of of Christos Salis (39) and Eleftheria Dimopoulou (40).
The four-year-old, known only as Maria, is the subject of an international police inquiry after Greek police released her photograph at the weekend, appealing for her parents to come forward.
A Roma couple from the village of Farsala in central Greece are accused of abducting her from her natural parents, whom police believe are either from northern or eastern Europe – in a case that has invited comparisons with the missing British girl Madeleine McCann.