A Roma family, whose two-year-old blond son was removed overnight from them by gardaí in what their lawyer described as a case of "overzealous" policing, has secured damages of €60,000 under a settlement of their legal action.

The High Court heard the child was removed amid "a brief hysteria" across Europe in 2013 when a blonde girl was found in a Roma camp in Greece.

The boy was removed from his home in Athlone in October 2013 after members of the public reported concerns he might not be the child of his parents.

He was returned to them the following day.

The parents later sued, claiming damages including aggravated damages, on grounds including alleged negligence and false imprisonment.

Counsel for the family Peter Bland SC said the boy and another child, a seven-year-old blonde Roma girl, were both removed by gardaí from their homes in Athlone and Tallaght after a blonde child, 'Maria', was found in a Roma camp in Greece.

He said the removal of this boy under the Child Care Act 1991 was unwarranted and the Children's Ombudsman later concluded it amounted to "ethnic profiling".

The family also had reason to believe gardaí leaked information to the media.

The minister for justice and Taoiseach Enda Kenny had apologised over the matter, he added. 

Mr Bland said it was an unusual case that involved imposing a duty of care on gardaí in relation to actions under the Child Care Act.

His case would have been that it was fair and reasonable to impose such a duty on gardaí not to act in an overzealous way.

The defence to that would argue, when gardaí considered there was a threat to a child, they should not have to worry they might be sued.

Such issues had yet to be decided in Irish law and he could not say he would win should the case proceed.

The high watermark of his case, had it proceeded, would be the Ombudsman's report, which concluded there was no well-founded suspicion or immediate emergency justifying the actions of gardaí.

The report found garda actions involved "ethnic profiling" as defined by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance.

The boy was removed under Section 12 of the 1991 Child Care Act, which allows for a child's removal without a prior court order where it is considered there is an immediate and serious risk to a child's health and welfare.

He was placed in the custody of the Health Service Executive and later returned to his parents.

DNA tests established he was their child.

The child, now aged four, was in the High Court with his parents when the judge approved the settlement of his action.

In her report of July 2014, then Children's Ombudsman Emily Logan concluded the readiness to believe the boy, referred to as 'Child A', might have been abducted exceeded the evidence available and was tied inextricably to the fact his family was Roma.

Ms Logan said she recognised the gardaí in question honestly believed they were acting in the best interests both of the boy and the blonde Roma girl also removed from her family in Tallaght around the same time.

Mr Justice McDermott said he was happy to approve the amount of the settlement.

He said a medical report submitted to the court did not support the existence of personal injuries or any post-traumatic symptoms.

He said it was undoubtedly upsetting at the time to be taken in the manner in which he was and be deprived of his parents overnight.

The judge said that having regard to the figure offered and "notwithstanding what must have been a very difficult circumstances in which this family found themselves and taking into account the trauma, I'm satisfied that the sum of €60,000, recommended to the court in light of all of the factors, represents a sum I'm happy to approve."

The judge also approved an application for some of the money to be used now to buy a computer for the boy after counsel for the family said he was "a four-year-old boy who likes to play games".