Kerry Babies: Taoiseach apologises to Joanne Hayes and is open to discussing compensation with her

Update 12.51pm: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has apologised on behalf of the State to Joanne Hayes for the trauma she suffered during the Kerry babies scandal and said he is open to discussing compensation with her over what happened, writes Fiachra O'Cionnaith in Strasbourg.

Asked by reporters at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, if he believes compensation should now be provided after the revelations of this week, Mr Varadkar said he wanted to apologise sincerely for the case.

Mr Varadkar said that "only in fact in recent days or weeks" did he become fully aware of the case as "I was too young to remember it at the time", saying what happened was "eye-opening" in terms of how much Ireland has changed since the 1980s.

And echoing Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan's decision to apologise for the scandal, Mr Varadkar said he would also like to apologise on behalf of the State - adding compensation is likely to be discussed "in the period ahead".

"It's only in fact in recent days or weeks that I've really learned about the Kerry babies case, I was aware of it of course but was too young to remember it at the time. It's been eye-opening for me to learn about that in the last couple of days.

"It reflects I think the extent to which Ireland is such a different place in the 1980s than it is now, and I also absolutely want to re-iterate the apology the gardaí has made to Joanne Hayes and also to make that apology on behalf of the State as well.

"I can't offer compensation here now, but it is something that I think we can discuss with her representatives in the period ahead. But I absolutely want to add to the apology made by the gardaí and make that apology on behalf of the State as well, because she was very badly treated by her State and by her society," Mr Varadkar said.

Update 12pm: The Taoiseach and Justice Minister have apologised to the woman at the centre of the Kerry Babies case on behalf of the state. 

"It's been eye-opening for me to learn about that in the last couple of days," said Leo Varadkar.

"It reflects, I think, the extent to which Ireland was such a different place in the 1980s than it is now.

"I absolutely want to reiterate the apology that the gardaí have made to Joanne Hayes and also to make that apology on behalf of the State as well."

Tánaiste Simon Coveney joined with Varadkar and Flanagan to apologies during Leaders' Questions in the Dail.

Yesterday gardaí confirmed that Joanne Hayes was not the mother of Baby John who was found on the beach in Caherciveen in 1984 and issued an apology to her.

They also said they are commencing a fresh investigation into his death based on new DNA evidence.

Charlie Flanagan has today welcomed the investigation and issued another apology to Ms Hayes.

The issue is being addressed at Leaders Questions this afternoon. 

Watch the Dáil live here:

Update 11.38am: The Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan T.D has said he is "deeply sorry" Joanne 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 welcomed yesterday’s announcement by An Garda Síochána that they are to commence a fresh investigation into the 'Kerry Babies' case

"I welcome the announcement by An Garda Síochána that a new investigation, involving the Serious Crime Review Team and local Gardaí, will be commenced into this violent death. I want to particularly welcome the apology made personally to Ms. Joanne Hayes by Commissioner Donall Ó Cualáin on behalf of An Garda Síochána which was put on the public record by Gardaí yesterday," the Minister said.

The investigation will examine the tragic death of John, the baby whose life was cut short in 1984.

"An Garda Síochána is conducting a fresh investigation and I am hopeful they will succeed in establishing the facts of this tragic case.

"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. I note also that this development has been made possible following painstaking expert work by Forensic Science Ireland."

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and the Tánaiste, Simon Coveney, also apologised to the woman at the centre of the Kerry Babies case on behalf of the State.

- Digital Desk

Earlier 10.33am: DNA result 'only really confirms what we always knew to be the situation' says solicitor for Joanne Hayes

by Anne Lucey

The solicitor for Joanne Hayes said the DNA findings that conclusively stated that Ms Hayes was not the mother of the baby found on a beach in Cahersiveen in April 2014 simply confirmed what they always knew and what they had always said.

“This only really confirms what we always knew to be the situation,” Patrick Mann, solicitor said on Radio Kerry this morning.

He appealed for what the Hayes family were entitled to- privacy.

“All we say is that’s that. That’s the situation. We never had anything to do with it. It has been formally confirmed we had nothing to do with it.”

“Science back then came to our assistance and said we had nothing to do with it. Further science today says we had nothing to do with it,” Mr Mann also said.

He said the Hayes family were wonderful people, from a wonderful community in Abbeydorney and had enjoyed wonderful support from the people of Abbeydorney. He added that the whole episode was “pretty hard going” for everyone.

The emphasis now is on something with which the family had no connection.

"We never had any connection,” Mr Mann said of the renewed garda enquiry.

“We said all those years ago we had nothing at all to do with it. There was a refusal to accept we had nothing to do with it, ” Mr Mann said.

He said the whole thing had been very hard on everyone.

“The fact we survived at all is a tribute to these wonderful people, they were terribly dealt with,” the solicitor said.

He reiterated a number of times an appeal for privacy.

The apology scenario, issued and hand delivered on Tuesday, was part of the facts.

All he asked now for these wonderful people who led wonderful lives, and who were terribly dealt with, be allowed their privacy, he also said.

 

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