No public appetite exists for an investigation that would identify the mother of “Baby John” and leave the way open for a prosecution, the child at the centre of the Kerry babies controversy, a leading barrister in the county has said.
In a letter to Garda Commissioner Drew Harris, Elizabeth Murphy complained about "the scandalous waste of resources" used to exhume the baby's remains in Kerry on Tuesday.
Describing the exhumation as a “desecration of a baby’s grave”, the barrister said the Garda previously said it had a DNA sample and she questioned if the purpose is to “frighten the mother into confession”.
Superintendent Florence Murphy, who heads the "cold case" review that began in January 2018, said the exhumation at the Holy Cross cemetery in Cahersiveen was "absolutely necessary".
In her letter to the Garda Commissioner, Ms Murphy said: "There is no public appetite for the prosecution of the mother of Baby John. I can only assume that the ascribing of your budget to this matter arises in some vain attempt to claw back some credibility, following rampant incompetence in respect of the death of a child by a botched investigation, wrongful charging of Joanne Hayes and members of her family and aggravated by positing an entirely bizarre and misogynistic theory of superfecundation for which An Garda Síochána has never apologised."
The State’s apology to Joanne Hayes surely should be an indication to the Superintendent “as part of the State, that it is time to let this matter rest in peace”, she said.
“There is no public appetite for the prosecution of the mother of Baby John. It is an aberration of a time we all wish to forget,” Ms Murphy writes.
The Kerry Babies Tribunal inquiry into Garda mishandling which was converted into "a witch hunt" demonstrated a shameful failure of the judicial system "but also reflects poorly on An Garda Síochána, particularly those located in Kerry and we do not need the constant reopening of old wounds".
Ms Murphy is one of a number of women in Kerry who are uneasy about the latest step in the investigation, particularly given the treatment of women by An Garda Síochána in the 1980s. Questioning of young women by gardaí sent to investigate the matter in Cahersiveen has been described to this reporter as rough and intrusive and a particularly difficult time in Kerry for many women now in their late 50s and early 60s.
The White Strand beach near Cahersiveen where the body was found was a popular courting spot and local women were asked intimate details of their relationships by investigating detectives; schoolgirls at St John Bosco were also asked intimate questions. This difficult time was now being brought back, one woman told this reporter.
Meanwhile, another prominent woman, speaking in a private capacity, has questioned the need to exhume the baby and says a full explanation should be provided by the Garda.