Kerry babies: Department of Justice still in talks with Joanne Hayes

Taoiseach raised compensation possibility for woman at centre of Kerry babies tribunal

Contacts are continuing between the Department of Justice and Joanne Hayes, the woman at the centre of the Kerry Babies Tribunal in 1985, over compensation for the way she was treated, the Department of Justice has confirmed.

An Garda Síochána and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar apologised to Ms Hayes earlier this year after fresh DNA evidence revealed that she could not have been the mother of a baby boy whose body was washed up on a Kerry beach in 1984.

A tribunal of inquiry established by the Oireachtas concluded that Ms Hayes had killed her baby after giving birth at the family farm in April 1984, and largely rejected allegations of wrongdoing against investigating gardaí, who had also accused her of having given birth to a second baby before killing him.

Ms Hayes’s treatment by the investigating gardaí and the tribunal was widely seen to be unjust, unfair and unfounded.


There has been no decision on whether to hold an inquiry into the botched Garda investigation at the time

After the DNA finding this year, Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said the Government was examining ways of rectifying the wrongs done to Ms Hayes and distancing the State from the tribunal findings.

The Taoiseach apologised to Ms Hayes in the Dáil, and raised the possibility of compensation for her. However, there has been little progress since.


Asked if any compensation had been paid to Ms Hayes, the department initially refused to say anything but when pressed it issued a statement confirming it remained in consultations with representatives of Ms Hayes.

“The department has at all times attempted to respect Joanne Hayes’s stated wish for privacy. However, it can be confirmed that a process with her representatives is ongoing,” the department said.

There has been no decision on whether to hold an inquiry into the botched Garda investigation at the time.

Gardaí this week began door-to-door inquiries on Valentia island in Kerry about the case, which was never resolved.

These inquiries are taking place as part of a cold-case investigation into the murder of the days-old Kerry baby, also known as baby John, found stabbed on a strand near Cahersiveen, Co Kerry.

Ms Hayes was originally charged with the murder of the baby but the charges were dropped, and the person responsible for the killing has never been found.

DNA samples have been taken in an attempt to establish the baby’s parents and a number of people have come forward offering samples in order to be ruled out, while others have been approached.

The inquiry team has the original Garda logbook of the investigation. The logbook details the names of those interviewed at the time and those due to be re-interviewed.

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy is Political Editor of The Irish Times