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Freedom that lies at the heart of feminism is still under fire

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Anne Harris outgoing Editor of the Sunday Independent

Anne Harris outgoing Editor of the Sunday Independent

Joanne Hayes became a cause celebre for Irish feminists.

Joanne Hayes became a cause celebre for Irish feminists.

Where were the placards and outcry over the treatment of Mairia Cahill (pictured)? Feminism needs new role models - will it be Mairia or Mary Lou McDonald asks Anne Harris.  Picture:  Gerry Mooney.

Where were the placards and outcry over the treatment of Mairia Cahill (pictured)? Feminism needs new role models - will it be Mairia or Mary Lou McDonald asks Anne Harris. Picture: Gerry Mooney.

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Anne Harris outgoing Editor of the Sunday Independent

The Kerry Babies Tribunal was where I came in with the Sunday Independent. Mairia Cahill's revelations about sex abuse and Sinn Fein is my point of departure. Between the two lies a chasm - not just a 30-year gap, but the erosion of a once great idea: feminism.

The Kerry Babies Tribunal arose out of the discovery on a Kerry beach of a brutally murdered baby, the subsequent arrest of single parent Joanne Hayes, who had earlier given birth in Tralee, but was found to be inexplicably baby-less, and confessions by her and her family, apparently under duress, to the murder. Police investigation revealed a second dead baby - definitely Joanne's - buried on the Hayes farm.

The tribunal had the cast of characters of an Agatha Christie novel: a vulnerable young woman, an inarticulate family who contradicted one another and a sphinx-like watchful aunt who had a very different story to tell: a tale of murder.


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