Wednesday 20 February 2019

No compensation paid to Joanne Hayes a year after 'Kerry Babies' apology

Joanne Hayes was wrongly accused
Joanne Hayes was wrongly accused
Remembered: The grave of the Kerry Baby named John. Photo: INM
Ordeal: Joanne Hayes was falsely accused of giving birth to the child and killing it
Cold case: Gardaí knocking on doors on Valentia Island. Picture: Doug O'Connor
Mystery: White Strand in Cahersiveen, Co Kerry, where Baby John was found. Photo: Mark Condren

Sinead Kelleher and Simon Brouder

The Government has still not paid compensation to Joanne Hayes a full year after Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan both apologised to the north Kerry woman for her treatment during the 1984 'Kerry Babies' case.

Both Mr Varadkar and Mr Flanagan said at the time that Ms Hayes was entitled to damages for what she was forced to endure at the hands of the Gardaí who issued a formal apology to Joanne Hayes on January 16, 2018.

A year later sources close to the compensation talks say discussions on compensation are ongoing, with no end in sight. 

The Department of Justice maintain that they and Minister of Justice Charlie Flanagan are doing all they can to settle the matter “as expeditiously, compassionately and sensitively as possible”.

Cold case: Gardaí knocking on doors on Valentia Island. Picture: Doug O'Connor
Cold case: Gardaí knocking on doors on Valentia Island. Picture: Doug O'Connor

The same day the apology was issued, gardaí also announced that the investigation into the murder of five-day-old 'Baby John' was to be re-opened. The discovery of the baby’s remains on White Strand near Cahersiveen sparked the entire Kerry Babies saga.

Since then, a team of nine gardaí, all working full-time on the case, have interviewed “hundreds” of people; taken fresh DNA samples from a number of people running into “double digits” and followed over 300 new and old lines of inquiry.

The murder probe remains focused on southern Iveragh, but the investigation has taken gardaí outside the county and the country. Gardaí have liaised with various international police forces as they try to crack the almost 35-year-old mystery.

Gardaí in Kerry are still very much focused on the case and will continue for long as necessary, Superintendent Flor Murphy confirmed this week.

Supt Murphy would not give specifics on how many DNA samples have been taken but said they are in “double digits”.

“There is ongoing selective sampling,” Superintendent Flor Murphy said. At the time of the relaunch of the investigation gardaí said DNA would be key to their investigation.

Whiter Strand, where Baby John's body was found
Whiter Strand, where Baby John's body was found

Superintendent Murphy said that “plenty of new lines of enquiry” have opened in the last 12 months and that these are being followed thoroughly.

This includes investigations on Valentia Island where questionnaires were distributed to every household last September during an intensive trawl of the island.

That garda dragnet of the island generated considerable anger among the local community who felt they were being unfairly singled out.

There was also considerable local criticism of the fact that the national media appeared to have been alerted to the garda operation before gardaí unexpectedly arrived on the island last September.

Remembered: The grave of the Kerry Baby named John. Photo: INM
Remembered: The grave of the Kerry Baby named John. Photo: INM

In the wake of that criticism Supt Murphy said gardaí would go wherever they need to in order to solve the case.

“If a certain line of enquiry takes us a certain place that is where we will go,” said Superintendent Murphy.

“Valentia inquiries are ongoing and there are follow-up inquiries. Gardaí are working on that and finalising that,” he said.

Superintendent Murphy also confirmed that gardaí in Kerry are liaising with “international police forces” in relation to the ongoing investigation which has taken gardaí outside the county and the country.

The team working on the case includes at least six Kerry gardaí who are investigating the case full time along with members of the Serious Crime Review Team who travel to Kerry on a regular basis to work on the ongoing investigation.

This week Superintendent Murphy once again appealed for the mother of Baby John to come forward and contact them and for anyone with information on the case.

“There are people out there with information. I am convinced that there are people who can help us,” he said.

“A five-day old baby was murdered and that is being pursued.”

He said that the investigation will continue this year.

“We want to solve an unsolved murder. Significant resources have been deployed and this will continue.”

So far, the renewed investigation – which has prompted significant local anger – has led to no arrests and provided no new answers about the identity of ‘Baby John’ or his killer.

Online Editors

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News