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Leo Varadkar apologises to Joanne Hayes over Kerry Babies scandal

Gardaí had formally apologised yesterday.

Joanne Hayes, pictured in 1985
Joanne Hayes, pictured in 1985

LEO VARADKAR HAS apologised on behalf of the State to Joanne Hayes who was wrongly accused of the murder of an infant child in Kerry in 1984.

Yesterday, gardaí confirmed officially for the first time that Hayes was not the mother of the child who was found stabbed to death on White Strand beach in Cahersiveen in April 1984. They apologised unreservedly to Hayes and her family and said that the Ireland of 80s was a very different place.

A tribunal set up to examine how gardaí had mishandled the case concluded that Hayes was not the mother of the baby on the beach.

Gardaí are now carrying out a new investigation into the death of Baby John.

Speaking today in Strasbourg, Varadkar said that Joanne Hayes had been treated very badly by the Irish State.

He said: “I absolutely want to reiterate the apology to Joanne Hayes made by the gardaí yesterday and do so on behalf of the Irish State.”

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan echoed the message in a statement released this morning and said he welcomed the new investigation into the death of the child.

He said: “Joanne Hayes was subject to a prolonged ordeal that was simply wrong on every level. This was unacceptable even at the time and as Minister for Justice and Equality, and on behalf of the State, I am deeply sorry that this happened. I note that Ms Hayes’s solicitor has indicated her wish for privacy and I hope this will be respected by all.”

Speaking during Leaders’ Questions this afternoon, Tánaiste Simon Coveney said he was not at liberty to speak about compensation for Hayes but said that it is something he is sure the Government will want to act quickly on. The matter was raised by Fianna Fáil leader Michéal Martin.

Joanne Hayes was a 25-year-old woman from Abbeydorney, north Kerry, who had been known to be pregnant, and was soon arrested by gardaí as part of their investigation into the death of Baby John in 1984.  A murder probe and a subsequent tribunal of inquiry later absolved her of any wrongdoing.

It would later transpire that Joanne’s own child had been stillborn. She and her family had buried the child in a field near her home.

Gardaí announced yesterday that they had obtained a full DNA profile of the baby found dead on White Strand Beach and were able to rule out that Hayes was the mother, ending any speculation that she was involved in his death.

Two years ago, the family’s solicitor Pat Mann released a statement which said that Hayes had no problem in submitting a sample of her blood which could be tested against a sample of tissue of the dead child which was retained by the State.

DNA testing was not available in the 1980s.

Now that a DNA profile has been established for the murdered child, it is hoped that his family can be identified. Gardaí believe this could help end the mystery of the child’s violent death.

Read: After 34 years, gardaí have apologised to Joanne Hayes over the Kerry Babies case >

Read: There is more than one apology due over the abysmal Kerry Babies saga >

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