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Settlement of €2.5m offered by State to end Kerry Babies saga

Hayes family want controversial 1985 tribunal findings set aside

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Tragic: Journalist Kim Bielenberg pictured at the grave of ‘Baby John’ whose body was found on White Strand, ‘O’er The Water’, Cahersiveen in County Kerry in 1984. Photo: Don MacMonagle

Tragic: Journalist Kim Bielenberg pictured at the grave of ‘Baby John’ whose body was found on White Strand, ‘O’er The Water’, Cahersiveen in County Kerry in 1984. Photo: Don MacMonagle

Tragic: Journalist Kim Bielenberg pictured at the grave of ‘Baby John’ whose body was found on White Strand, ‘O’er The Water’, Cahersiveen in County Kerry in 1984. Photo: Don MacMonagle

A €2.5m settlement has been proposed to end the 1984 Kerry Babies saga.

The State has proposed paying €2.5m in compensation to the Hayes family for suffering and mental trauma after their treatment by State agents in relation to the Kerry Babies controversy over 36 years ago.

The controversy erupted when a newborn baby boy later dubbed ‘Baby John’ was discovered washed up at White Strand in Kerry on April 14, 1984.

The infant had died from severe skull and spinal injuries. He had also been stabbed multiple times.

Joanne Hayes, who was known to have been pregnant, was later arrested by gardaí but a judge subsequently dismissed the charge against her.

It emerged she had given birth to a stillborn baby who was wrapped in plastic and buried on her family farm.

Gardaí found the body of the infant on her family farm at the precise spot she indicated.

She maintained she had no connection whatsoever to the White Strand baby found some 80km away.

The Abbeydorney woman also had a different blood type to ‘Baby John’.

However, some gardaí wrongly and bizarrely accused her of having two children by two different fathers.

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DNA samples from Baby John were analysed three years ago in a bid to identify the infant’s parents.
In 2018 gardaí confirmed that DNA testing on the baby found at White Strand showed the infant was not the son of Ms Hayes.

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Settlement: Joanne Hayes was at the centre of the Kerry Babies saga in 1984. Photo: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Settlement: Joanne Hayes was at the centre of the Kerry Babies saga in 1984. Photo: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Settlement: Joanne Hayes was at the centre of the Kerry Babies saga in 1984. Photo: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Gardaí, under acting Garda Commissioner Dónall Ó Cualáin, offered a full apology to Joanne Hayes and the entire Hayes family.

Apologies were also issued by the then Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and then Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan for how the family were treated by agents of the State.

The Hayes family settlement is expected to be confirmed over the coming days after the High Court resolves a demand by the family for all findings of wrongdoing by the Kerry Babies Tribunal to be formally set aside.

The 1985 tribunal, under Mr Justice Kevin Lynch, rejected claims that members of the Hayes family had been intimidated to make specific statements or that wrongful acts had been committed by gardaí.

Ongoing proceedings in formally setting aside the tribunal report will take place in the High Court in Dublin this week.

The settlement package is understood to be worth €2.5m. It will involve Ms Hayes, her brothers Ned and Michael, her sister Kathleen, and her daughter Yvonne.

According to a report in Kerry’s Eye, it will be broken down as €1.5m for Joanne Hayes, €300,000 for Michael, Ned and Kathleen and €100,000 for Yvonne.

Once confirmed, the settlement for the family will effectively end a 36-year saga which convulsed both Irish justice and politics.

Gardaí insisted their investigation into the death of Baby John remains open and active.

Two years ago officers began door-to-door inquiries in Kerry. DNA samples were also sought.


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