Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald has said Section 12 of the 1991 Child Care Act, which is used to remove children at risk from their home, would be re-examined if an investigation by the Ombudsman for Children found that changes to the legislation were necessary.

Her comments came following the temporary placing of two Roma children into State care earlier this week.

Ms Fitzgerald said the powers of investigation given to  Ombudsman for Children Emily Logan into the procedures and protocols used by the authorities would complement the independence of the office and ensure that public trust was maintained.

Yesterday, it was confirmed Ms Logan is to investigate the gardaí and the HSE  after the children were removed from families in Dublin and Westmeath due to concerns about their parentage.

In an interview on RTÉ Radio 1 Ms Fitzgerald said she hopes to publish the Children First legislation during the current Dail term or early in the New Year.

Asked about the Ombudsman's investigation raising the potential need for additional resources in child protection, Minister Fitzgerald said the use of Section 12s would be looked at.

"If there are lessons to be learned here, or if there are any changes necessary, of course government will consider those," she said.

Heffernan apology

Meanwhile, Cork athlete Rob Heffernan has apologised for an offensive tweet he sent about one of the cases  in which a child was removed from their home by gardaí.

Speaking to RTÉ earlier today, Mr Heffernan said the Twitter exchange was a “kneejerk reaction” and he was sorry for any offence he had caused.  

The Immigrant Council of Ireland welcomed Mr Heffernan’s apology.

But it said the issue of racism on the internet was an increasing problem.

16% of all cases they deal with relate to racism online.

ICI CEO Denise Charlton says the Government need to introduce safeguards to protect those who could become victims of racism on the web.