Baby found on Balbriggan beach was stillborn, postmortem finds

Gardaí to take DNA samples from ‘Belle’ in effort to identify the girl’s mother

The baby girl whose body was found on a beach in Balbriggan in north Co Dublin at the weekend was stillborn, a postmortem has found.

Gardaí are due to take a DNA sample from the remains in an effort to find the identity of the mother. Gardaí said they have received a number of phone calls in relation to the discovery of the body of the baby girl, who gardaí have named Belle.

Belle was discovered wrapped in cloth shortly after 10am on Saturday by a woman engaged in a voluntary clean-up at an isolated stretch of Bell Beach. Foul play has been ruled out.

Gardaí have issued a further appeal for the mother of Belle to come forward and seek medical attention.

Gardaí believe that Belle was left at the beach less than 24 hours after being born and that she was partially covered by sand due to high winds rather an than attempt to bury the body.

They have been unable to establish what part of the country the mother may be from and will be examining CCTV footage from the area as part of their investigation.

The remains of Belle are with the coroner and gardaí are expected to speak with Fingal County Council and the Department of Social Protection in relation to a funeral and burial arrangements.

Sgt Fiona Savidge from Balbriggan Garda station said she wanted to thank people in "the general area for the assistance".

“A number of phone calls have been received to Balbriggan Garda station. Going back to what I said on Saturday, I just want to appeal again; the primary concern is the health and welfare and the medical assistance that can be offered to Belle’s mam.

“I also just want to say that the safety of Belle’s mam is of paramount importance,” she told a press conference at Balbriggan Garda station on Monday afternoon.

“The postmortem results showed yesterday that it was a birth of a baby girl. She was full-term and unfortunately baby Belle was stillborn.

“The name is significant in that the location where Belle was located, where her remains were found is Bell’s beach along with the fact that we’re in the festive period...also the name Belle is significant in that it’s the French for beautiful.”

Eilidh MacNab, Tusla’s area manager for north Dublin said “we’re here today to ask for the woman to please seek medical attention”.

“She will know that the gardaí here in Balbriggan have named her beautiful baby Belle and we want her to seek medical attention and receive the care, support and attention she needs and she deserves.

“The numbers she can call are Tusla on 081 8776315 or the Garda Confidential 1800 666111 or indeed any other medical practitioner.”

Garda Inspector Brian Downey appealed to the mother on RTÉ's Morning Ireland programme on Monday to come forward and receive medical treatment. "This is not a criminal investigation. She is not in trouble. Our only concern is for the health, safety, welfare of the mother," he said.

“We don’t need to speak to her, we just need to know that she is okay, that’s she’s safe and getting the medical attention that she requires.”

Dr Rhona Mahony, Master of the National Maternity Hospital, also told the programme she was concerned for the mother, who may be experiencing complications.

“We are concerned for her as a person. We understand she is going through a terribly difficult time. I imagine she is very confused, distressed and frightened, she may feel overwhelmed.”

Dr Mahony said she was concerned the mother could be suffering from excessive bleeding and feeling unwell. “She’s got a lot to cope with.

“Our primary concern is caring for her. There’s no question of anyone ‘giving out’ to her. We are concerned for her physical health, her mental health.

“It is heartbreaking, we know that women face difficult circumstances some times. Difficult things happen in life, we understand that. Our first thought is her welfare.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact Balbriggan Garda station on (01) 6664500 or any Garda station, or alternatively the Tusla 24 hour service at 0818 776315.