The Irish government has issued an apology to Joanne Hayes for her treatment during the Kerry Babies controversy
On behalf of the State, Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said today that Ms Hayes “was subject to a prolonged ordeal that was simply wrong on every level”.
Baby John was found with multiple injuries on White Strand beach in Cahersiveen, Co Kerry, on April 14 1984. A local woman – Joanna Hayes – was arrested and confessed to the murder but she and her family later withdrew the confession.
Hayes, who concealed a second baby on their family farm, was arrested and charged with the murder of the first baby, of which she was erroneously thought to be the mother. DNA tests have conclusively ruled out the possibility that she is the mother.
The Gardai were slow to realise the mistake, whereupon the charges were dropped.
The Kerry Babies Tribunal was launched and delivered a report, which was critical of the Garda conduct of the investigations, and also concluded that Hayes had precipitated the death of her baby.
Minister Flanagan said: “I want to particularly welcome the apology made personally to Ms. Joanne Hayes by Commissioner Donall Ó Cualáin on behalf of An Garda Síochána which was put on the public record by Gardaí yesterday.”
“An Garda Síochána is conducting a fresh investigation and I am hopeful they will succeed in establishing the facts of this tragic case. This review team has had some success investigating historic cases and I note the sensitivity with which they have approached the appeal for new information.
“I note also that this development has been made possible following painstaking expert work by Forensic Science Ireland.”
Speaking in Strasbourg, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said Joanna Hayes “evidently is a woman who was very badly treated by our State and our society in a way that so many other women have in the past”.
The investigation will now continue to determine who Baby John’s parents were and how he came to his tragic end. Investigating Gardaí will make an appeal for information from anyone living in Cahersiveen and the surrounding areas around the time of April 1984.
The Gardaí will be supported by the Serious Crime Review Team in their investigation.