Joanne Hayes and family suing State over Kerry babies scandal

Compensation talks with Department of Justice over wrongful accusations collapse

Joanne Hayes leaving the tribunal of enquiry into the Kerry Babies in 1985. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

Joanne Hayes leaving the tribunal of enquiry into the Kerry Babies in 1985. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

 

Joanne Hayes and her family have begun proceedings against the State for being wrongfully accused of the murder of an infant in Co Kerry more than 30 years ago, the Department of Justice has confirmed.

The action comes after prolonged negotiations with the Department of Justice over compensation in relation to the wrongful accusations broke down.

Ms Hayes, from Abbeydorney, was arrested and charged with the murder of a new-born child whose body was found near the shore in Cahersiveen in 1984.

Ms Hayes, who was single, had recently had given birth to a stillborn baby some 76km away, which was interred in a secret location.

The Garda concluded that both infants were twins born to Ms Hayes, despite them having different blood groups. A subsequent Tribunal of Inquiry into the Garda investigation made contentious findings against Ms Hayes and her family, which were strongly disputed at the time.

DNA technology

Tests conducted last year using modern DNA technology concluded the baby found in Cahersiveen could not have been Ms Hayes’s. The State and Garda then issued official apologies to Ms Hayes and her family for the ordeal they endured, firstly with the Garda investigation and then the tribunal. However, efforts to reach a settlement did not conclude successfully.

The Hayes family have, through their solicitors, issued High Court writs against the Garda Commissioner, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Minister for Justice, the Attorney General, and the State. It is understood they are seeking damages in addition to amendments to the 1985 tribunal report.

Five members of the Hayes family are parties to the suit and they include Ms Hayes’s daughter Yvonne, who was then a toddler.

Solicitor Patrick Mann of Tralee is acting on behalf of the family but declined to comment on the decision to sue the State.

In a statement, a Department of Justice spokeswoman said: “Ms Hayes has asked for her privacy to be protected and we have sought at all times to respect her wishes, while endeavouring to reach a settlement with her and others in this complex case.

“Correspondence was received from the solicitors from the Hayes family in recent days, which is currently under consideration.”

A cold-case investigation into the Kerry babies case by a Garda serious crime review team is ongoing.