Frustration on Valentia over probe

Community upset by Kerry Babies enquiry teams' focus on island

Simon Brouder

Several locals living on Valentia Island have spoken of their upset at the major Garda enquiry on the island into the 1984 'Kerry Babies' case.

Last week - in a move that came as a complete surprise to many living on the island - a large number of gardaí, investigating the 34-year-old case, descended on Valentia to begin a comprehensive door-to-door canvas of the island.

The canvass of Valentia - which will see Gardaí carry out interviews and issue questionnaires to some 600 people with homes or holiday houses on the island - is, according to garda sources, based on "a certain line of enquiry" that the cold case team are following as they try to solve the decades-old murder.

DNA samples may also be sought, though none have yet been collected on Valentia.

While the community have been co-operative, many have expressed anger that the island has been singled out by investigators. The heavy media presence also provoked resentment.

Based on the history of the case, locals were understandably unwilling to go on the record, but several told The Kerryman that they felt 'humiliated' and 'embarrassed' by the media coverage.

Others expressed anger that national media outlets seemed to have been tipped off about the sensitive operation while the community knew nothing.

One man said an elderly relative had been left shaken and confused after they spoke to gardaí.

"In fairness the gardaí were nice and very professional but (name withheld) was confused after it all and it took us a while to explain they weren't in trouble themselves. That's not fair, and we should have had some more notice the gardaí might be calling in," he felt.

Islanders have also cast doubts on garda claims that prevailing tides could have carried the baby's body from Valentia to the mainland.

Experienced boatmen in the area, all very familiar with the local waters, told The Kerryman that the prevailing tides would be far more likely to carry a small body out into the Atlantic.