Tuesday 19 February 2019

No compensation paid to Hayes yet - a year after Kerry Babies apology

Formal apology: Joanne Hayes, who received an apology from the Garda over her treatment during the Kerry Babies case
Formal apology: Joanne Hayes, who received an apology from the Garda over her treatment during the Kerry Babies case
Tragic: The grave of ‘Baby John’, whose remains being found on the beach started the Kerry Babies case. 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 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 gardaí who issued a formal apology to Ms Hayes on January 16, 2018.

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

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

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

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 lines of inquiry, both new and old.

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 as long as necessary, Superintendent Flor Murphy said this week.

Supt Murphy would not give specifics on how many DNA samples had been taken but said the number was in "double digits". "There is ongoing selective sampling," he said.

Supt Murphy said that "plenty of new lines of enquiry" have opened in the past 12 months and these are being followed thoroughly.

This includes investigations on Valentia Island, where questionnaires were distributed to every household last September.

That Garda dragnet of the island generated considerable anger among the community, which felt it was 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 arrived on the island last September.

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," he said.

Supt Murphy also confirmed that gardaí in Kerry were liaising with "international police forces" in relation to the ongoing investigation.

He once again appealed for the mother of Baby John, and for anyone with information on the case, to come forward and contact gardaí.

"A five-day-old baby was murdered and that is being pursued," he said.

Irish Independent

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