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Saturday 24 August 2019

Cabinet trod carefully in sensitive and tragic Ann Lovett case

People kneeling at the grotto in Granard, Co Longford, where the body of 15-year-old Ann
Lovett and her baby were found in 1984
People kneeling at the grotto in Granard, Co Longford, where the body of 15-year-old Ann Lovett and her baby were found in 1984

Ralph Riegel

The government warned there must be an inquest into the tragic death of schoolgirl Ann Lovett in Longford before any decision could be taken on a public inquiry.

The 15-year-old died shortly after giving birth to a baby boy near a grotto in Granard on January 31, 1984. Her baby died at the same time.

That day was miserably cold and marked by heavy rain.

The tragic death of the schoolgirl and her baby sparked a national debate in Ireland over attitudes towards pregnancy outside marriage.

Now, State archives released under the 30-year rule reveal the government was acutely conscious of the sensitivities surrounding the case.

The 1986 archive reveals the matter was discussed at cabinet level.

A memo dated February 10, 1984, indicated the government was briefed on the matter by then health minister Barry Desmond.

"Government received a report from Minister for Hhealth and Education - expressed sympathy with the parents and family," it read.

"In so far as an inquiry is concerned, there will be an inquest.

"(It was) a great personal tragedy which should not be compounded by particular kinds of attention."

Garda, Department of Education and Midland Health Board inquiries were staged in 1984/85 but their findings were never published.

Irish Independent

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