Belfast Telegraph

Kerry Babies probe: Taoiseach to consider compensation payment to Joanne Hayes

Leo Varadkar said Ms Hayes had been very badly treated by the state and society.

The Government may offer compensation to the woman at the centre of the Kerry Babies murder investigation, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.

Mr Varadkar said Joanne Hayes had been “very badly treated” by the state and society.

As he issued an apology to Ms Hayes Mr Varadkar said the Government would discuss the issue of compensation with her representatives.

The Fine Gael leader added that the case “reflects the extent to which Ireland was such a different place in the 1980s”.

Ms Hayes was arrested following the discovery of a baby’s body on a beach in Co Kerry in 1984.

Advances in DNA profiling have confirmed that Ms Hayes, as she always maintained, was not the mother of that baby, who was named John.

Ms Hayes had given birth to a baby on the family farm in Abbeydorney, but that baby died and its body was found on the property after the discovery of Baby John had been made.

She was arrested and charged with murder.

The murder charge was later dropped and a tribunal of inquiry was set up to probe the Garda handling of her case.

Mr Varadkar said: “I absolutely want to reiterate the apology that the gardai have made to Joanne Hayes and also to make that apology on behalf of the state as well.

“I can’t offer compensation here and now but it is something that I think we can discuss with her representatives in the period ahead,” said Mr Varadkar on Wednesday.

He added: “She evidently is a woman who was very badly treated by our state and by our society in a way that so many other women have been in the past and that needs to change.”

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Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said Ms Hayes was subject to a prolonged ordeal that was “simply wrong on every level”.

“This was unacceptable even at the time and as Minister for Justice and Equality, and on behalf of the State, I am deeply sorry that this happened,” he said.

Mr Flanagan welcomed a decision by the Garda to conduct a fresh investigation into baby John’s death.

“This review team has had some success investigating historic cases and I note the sensitivity with which they have approached the appeal for new information,” he added.

In the Dail, Tanaiste Simon Coveney also apologised to Ms Hayes.

“I think people would like to think it was a very different Ireland in terms of the approach to women and pregnancy in those days, but I also accept the point that’s being made that there were real policing mistakes made,” he said.

“There were also mistakes made in the subsequent tribunal in terms of how a woman and her family was questioned.

“It was described afterwards as insensitive, very, very frightening, harrowing and quite horrific and shameful.”

Fianna fail leader Micheal Martin described Joanne Hayes’ treatment as shameful.

“The complete lack of empathy shown at that time through agencies of the State was shameful and represented a damming indictment on the institutions of the state and on society at the time,” he said.

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