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Tuesday 17 September 2019

Gardai to review CCTV and DNA database in bid to identify mother of baby girl found dead on beach

Gardaí reassure woman that only concern is for her health and safety

Flowers at Bell’s Beach where a baby girl's body was discovered in Balbriggan North County Dublin.
Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Flowers at Bell’s Beach where a baby girl's body was discovered in Balbriggan North County Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

Robin Schiller and Ryan Nugent

Gardai will use the national DNA database in an effort to identify the mother of a baby whose remains were discovered on a north Dublin beach over the weekend.

The newborn, named Belle by gardai, was found wrapped in a cloth on the Balbriggan beach at around 10am on Saturday morning.

At this stage investigators believe that the child was left at Bell's beach within 24 hours of being born but have not yet been able to establish a location of where baby Belle's mother could be from in the country.

The baby girl was stillborn, gardai have confirmed as they issued a further appeal for the mother to come forward.

Scene of tragedy: Bell’s Beach, where the baby girl’s body was discovered in Balbriggan, North County Dublin. Photo: Frank McGrath
Scene of tragedy: Bell’s Beach, where the baby girl’s body was discovered in Balbriggan, North County Dublin. Photo: Frank McGrath

This afternoon gardai made another public appeal for her mam to come forward and seek medical attention, adding that her welfare is of "paramount importance" to gardai.

Sgt Fiona Savidge, of Balbriggan garda station, said: "I want to thank everyone in the general area for their assistance. A number of phone calls have been received at Balbriggan garda station.

"The primary concern is the health, welfare and medical assistance that can be offered to Belle's mam . I also want to say that the safety of Belle's mam is of paramount importance," Sgt McSavidge said.

"The post mortem showed yesterday that it was the birth of a baby girl, she was full term and unfortunately baby Belle was stillborn," Sgt McSavidge added.

Eilidh McNab, the Tusla north Dublin area manager, also urged baby Belle's mother to seek medical attention and receive necessary care.

As part of their efforts to locate the baby's mother, gardai will use the national DNA database as is standard for missing person cases and the discovery of bodies.

Bell’s Beach, near Balbriggan, where the baby’s tiny body was found.
Photo: Frank McGrath
Bell’s Beach, near Balbriggan, where the baby’s tiny body was found. Photo: Frank McGrath

A DNA sample will be taken from baby Belle and compared to current samples in the database.

Baby Belle's body was partially covered in sand when discovered but gardai believe this was the result of winds rather than being done deliberately.

CCTV from the area around Bell's Beach in Balbriggan will also be reviewed as part of the investigation, and gardai say the remains were brought there rather than being washed ashore.

Foul play has been ruled out in the tragic case and Inspector Brian Downey insisted “the girl or woman who gave birth is not in trouble, there is no criminal investigation”.

“The baby was full term, it was a baby girl, the baby had died sometime before delivery,” he told RTÉ's 'Morning Ireland'.

“This is not a criminal investigation and our appeal is to the mother of this baby, please come forward, you do need medical intervention and you do need medical help and we’re imploring anybody who knows anything about this matter, whether it’s the mother herself, or her parents or her brother or sister, cousin, boyfriend, to contact either the gardai or Tusla or call to a hospital, to a doctor,” he added.

Inspector Downey said the baby girl has been named after the area in Balbriggan where her body was found.

“We’ve decided to name the baby, we’re gonna call the baby Belle, after Belle’s Lane and also because Belle is a derivative from the French meaning beautiful,” he said.

Inspector Downey said gardai are actively seeking information about the mother and said the gardai priority is her health.

He said gardai don’t need to speak to her, but need to know that she is safe.

“There’s probably a fear amongst the mother of Belle to come forward and what we’re trying to do is to create a safe environment that she will know that it’s okay for her to come to us. The tragic discovery of the tot's remains was made on Saturday morning at Bell's Beach near the north Dublin town.

A volunteer cleaning up the shore found the partially buried body.

Master of the National Maternity Hospital, Dr Rhona Mahony also issued an appeal to the mother and said “we are very concerned for her” and described the situation as “heartbreaking”.

“We’re concerned for her physically. She may have had some complications from the birth, for example excessive bleeding or infection,” she said.

“We’re also concerned for her as a person. We know that this is immensely difficult for her, we can imagine her being confused, being very distressed and indeed being very frightened.”

Dr Mahony added that they will “speak to her in absolute confidence”.

“She should not be concerned in relation to gardai or being in trouble or being given out to or facing a whole range of disciplinary action, we want to help her.”

Local Fine Gael Councillor Tom O'Leary expressed his shock over the weekend and also urged the mother to get medical attention.

"Without knowing any of the circumstances, I would appeal to the mother to come forward to seek the help and medical attention she needs.

"Maybe she is under a lot of pressure, we don't know the circumstances and the matter is very delicate," Mr O'Leary said.

"Maybe her family and friends are aware of her situation and they could assist her in coming forward. She needs to talk to somebody.

"God almighty, we don't know the circumstances but to think of anyone that might have had to go through that alone and also in those terrible weather conditions, alone on a beach.

"I can't bear to think of it. It's just so tragic. I am shocked.

"The whole of Ballbriggan will be in a state of shock," Mr O'Leary added.

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