Belfast Telegraph

Baby girl removed from parents' care after holiday 'incident' in Portugal

By Joanne Sweeney

A fourteen-month-old baby girl believed to be from Northern Ireland has been involved in a police incident at a popular Portuguese holiday resort.

The toddler was taken to hospital on Sunday night after several members of the public raised concerns for her welfare as she holidayed in Albufeira with her parents.

The decision about when the child will be returned to her parents' care is still to be taken by the country's family court authorities.

However, it is understood that her parents – who have been reported by the Portuguese media to be British nationals from Northern Ireland – were not arrested following the incident which took place on Sunday around 8.30pm.

Dr Luis Villas-Boas, director of a Christian charity which cares for children at risk, said last night that he was aware that the child had been taken to hospital but that it was now up to the courts to decide what further action to take, if any.

It is understood that the couple have visited the child in hospital, where she was found to be fit and well.

He confirmed that the Refúgio Aboim Ascensão centre where he works did not have the little girl involved but that it had received other children involved in similar tourist incidents.

"We had thought that there would have been a decision today as this happened two days ago and the child has had no disease and is not ill so there's no need to be in hospital.

"What happens with incidents like this in the past with children from British parents is that we just receive the child and care for it until the judicial decisions are taken."

Dr Villas-Boas added: "We are ready, if necessary, to receive the child if requested.

"At the moment we wish the best for the child.

"As for the parents, we leave that to the courts."

Last night, a police spokesman confirmed that its special police force, the GNR, was called to "an occurrence" at a tourist development in Albufeira and took a minor to the Faro Central Hospital.

It then reported the incident to the family court in Portimao.

It happened at the Hotel Paraíso, which confirmed the incident took place but declined to comment further.

The British Embassy in Lisbon said yesterday that it was providing consular assistance to two British nationals.

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