Saturday 24 February 2018

State papers 1985 key events: Kerry babies scandal, moving statues and how Nixon’s moon dust ended up in number 10

The fifth Slane was headlined by Bruce Springsteen in 1985. Photo: Getty Images
The fifth Slane was headlined by Bruce Springsteen in 1985. Photo: Getty Images
Joanne Hayes was wrongly believed to be Baby John’s mother
Charles Haughey
Manish Patel holds a picture of his eldest brother Bipin, a victim of the 1985 Air India Disaster after he attended a service at the memorial in Ahakista on Sheeps Head penninsula, West Cork, Ireland to mark the 25th anniversary of the disaster
Seats from the plane are brought ashore at Cork. Photo: Ted McCarthy
Ailish O'Hora

Ailish O'Hora

THE State papers from 1985 just revealed may have been dominated by the historic Anglo-Irish agreement but they also include a number of other events including the Kerry babies case, espionage and the strong grip the Church held on society just 30 years ago.

Internationally, the cold war was still dividing east and west.

Here are some of the main stories:

1.Kerry babies: A tragic and disturbing series of events centered on the discovery of the bodies of two babies in 1984 that would become known as the Kerry Babies Case.

The tragic events would also raise basic questions about the treatment of women in Irish society.

Two dead newborn babies were found in Kerry in April 1984. The first was that of a baby boy with multiple stab wounds found on the White Strand in Cahirciveen.

Two weeks later, the body of another baby boy was discovered on the family farm of a local girl, Joanne Hayes, in Abbeydorney. This baby was Ms Hayes’s and had died shortly after birth and was wrapped in a plastic sheet before being buried near the family farm in Abbeydorney.

While local gardaí, and detectives from the Murder Squad in Dublin at first suspected the Cahirciveen baby also belonged to Ms Hayes and they extensively interrogated and signed statements that seemed to back the garda theory, a tribunal found that the White Strand baby was not hers.

The state papers revealed today that an internal Garda investigation in the handling of the case found some officers had been “grossly negligent.”

And 30 years on, the identity of ‘baby John’ is still unknown.

2. Anglo Irish agreement: The story of the agreement that sowed the seeds for future peace in the North dominated the headlines on both sides of the Irish sea.

It was signed by Taoiseach Dr Garret FitzGerald and British PM Margaret Thatcher but the potential of the agreement was underestimated at the time, the state papers reveal.

However, violence was never far away from the current affairs agenda at the time either.

The country was left reeling when a serving Garda – Sergeant Pat Morrissey (49) – was shot and killed by an INLA gang during a dole office robbery in Co Louth.

He was shot in an execution style-killing, while on the ground already injured, at the scene in Ardee.

3. Air India Disaster: Cork became an emergency centre after 329 people died when an Air India Boeing 747 was blown up by a bomb 190km off the coast.

 It also became a hub of an anti-terrorism campaign and recovery operation after the event of June 23 caused international outrage when it emerged that the bombing was carried out by Sikh militants in retaliation for the actions of the Indian Government of Indira Ghandi.

4. Sporting calendar: This was dominated by Barry McGuigan becoming WBA featherweight champion after beating Eusebio Pedroza in a thrilling match in Shepherd’s Bush, London on June 8.IN the same year, Irish internationals Kevin Moran, Paul McGrath and Frank Stapleton won FA Cup medals as Manchester United beat Kevin Sheedy’s Everton at Wembley Stadium.

In GAA, Kerry broke Dublin’s heart in the All –Ireland Football Final to lift the Sam Maguire after beating the Dubs 2-12 to 2-8.

5. Church v State: Father Ted didn’t air until 1995 but ten years earlier the seeds were sown for the now infamous episode'The Passion of St. Tibulus' where Ted and Dougal are forced by Bishop Brennan to protest against it outside the local cinema.

Back in 1985, however, Jean Luc Goddard’s Je vous salue Marie (Hail Mary), slated as highly pornographic, was banned at the Cork Film Festival and on Irish telly. At the same time, Clare Co Council raised concerns about the showing of ‘blue movies’ in pubs across the region.

This was also the year that the ‘moving statue’ phenomenon was the highlight in Ballinspittle, Co Cork.

And Charlie Haughey gave the Irish Countrywomen’s Association that he was opposed to the opening of sex shops in Ireland.

6, Music: Following on from that, it’s almost hard to believe that Bruce Springsteen was allowed into the country! Against the backdrop of his mega-selling album ‘Born in the USA’ he played Slane Castle on June 1 to an audience of more than 100,000. Other stars topping the charts at the time were Madonna, Wham, Duran Duran and Dire Straits. Our own Bob Geldof also masterminded Live Aid in 1985 bringing the famine Ethiopia to worldwide attention.

7. Espionage: Irish diplomats were warned by senior British officials that during critical Anglo-Irish agreement talks their communications were being bugged. The warnings were contained in a secret 1985 document, deemed so sensitive, that it was send from London to Dublin by courier to be hand delivered to Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald.

8. Economy: The country was still recovering from the recession of the early 1980s. Inner city decline and school-funding were key concerns while the dreaded Deposit Interest Retention Tax or (DIRT) was also introduced.

9. Cold war: Emergency plans were drawn up amid fears a nuclear-powered Russian spy satellite could crash-land in Northern Ireland.

Alarm was sparked when the Soviet Union admitted in April 1988 that radio contact with Cosmos 1900 had been lost.

The satellite, carrying a small nuclear reactor, was launched in December 1987.

Soviet officials warned that they had lost control over it.

Western experts said the satellite, which tracked Western ships at sea, might break apart as it fell back to Earth.

It was feared radioactive debris from its 100-pound nuclear reactor could fall over populated areas.

A memo from the Northern Ireland Office reported that officials had been advised of arrangements to deal with the emergency situation which would arise if Cosmos 1900 fell on Northern Ireland.

However, the alarm subsided when the satellite burnt up over the Congo on re-entry on October 1, 1988.

10. Nixon’s moon dust: Just 15 years after president Richard Nixon presented the four tiny fragments of moon dust to prime minister Harold Wilson, it seems they had lost their lustre.

Files released by the National Archives at Kew show that the once-treasured relic was discovered sadly languishing in a cupboard in Downing Street.

When No 10 suggested the Science Museum might want to put them on display, they were rejected as a "curiosity" on a par with "a toothbrush once used by Napoleon" which the museum also held.

It had not always been the case. In 1970, when Mr Nixon handed over the samples of moon rock collected by Apollo astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, museums around the country had vied for the honour of showing them.





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