Sunday 21 October 2018

Writing the words that dragged a terrible scandal into the limelight

In the search to discover the truth about the Kerry Babies case, there were unintended consequences, writes Joe Joyce

Joanne Hayes: Gardai have now apologised
Joanne Hayes: Gardai have now apologised

Joe Joyce

There are two stories about the Kerry Babies case; the story Don Buckley and I broke in this newspaper in October 1984 about how gardai got four people to confess in graphic detail to a killing they did not commit; and the broader story of what the appalling treatment of Joanne Hayes by the tribunal set up to answer this question says about Ireland at the time.

The confessions by the Hayes family came some two weeks after the discovery of a baby boy washed up on White Strand near Cahersiveen. He had been stabbed 16 times in the neck and 12 times in the chest. It was assumed that a grey fertiliser sack with a brown bag inside, found close by, had contained the body.

Joanne Hayes became a suspect when gardai learned she had been treated in Tralee, claiming to have had a miscarriage, though doctors believed she had actually had a baby. There was no baby to be seen and gardai were suspicious she might be the mother of the murdered infant.

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