Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan has personally spoken to Joanne Hayes as arrangements for compensation continue to be negotiated over the Kerry Babies controversy.
The Department of Justice has confirmed that Mr Flanagan spoke to Ms Hayes by phone after the Government agreed more needed to be done to rectify wrongs inflicted on the family.
The Irish Examiner understands that representatives for the Hayes family remain in touch with the Department of Justice and government officials. This follows an apology offered by the Government.
Gardaí have also apologised for the stress and pain Ms Hayes and her family were put through as part of their investigation into the murder of baby John in Kerry in 1984.
Baby John’s body was discovered with multiple stab wounds on a beach outside Cahirciveen in 1984. Joanne Hayes was wrongfully charged with the baby’s murder, with gardaí suggesting she had been pregnant by two different men and gave birth to both babies.
A subsequent tribunal examined the mishandling of the case by gardaí, but it triggered public outrage.
Mr Flanagan, speaking to the Irish Examiner, refused to elaborate on his conversation with Ms Hayes, saying: “I wish to make no public comment and respect the family’s calls for privacy.”
It is understood that the Government has been taken aback by the continued level of hurt and pain experienced by Ms Hayes and her family, decades on from the events.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was told of the phone conversation between the justice minister and Ms Hayes.
It is also understood that the Department of Justice is still considering the possibility of a fresh inquiry into the garda handling of the case. Mr Flanagan said earlier this year such a probe was “merited”.
Sources close to the Hayes family confirmed negotiations between representatives, including their solicitor Pat Mann in Tralee, and the Department of Justice are ongoing.
Mr Varadkar apologised to Ms Hayes in January, after DNA tests finally confirmed she was not the mother of baby John.
Mr Varadkar said he wanted to “reiterate the apology the gardaí made to Joanne Hayes and also to make that apology on behalf of the State as well”.
However, he also said: “I can’t offer compensation here now but it’s something that I think we can discuss with her representatives in the period ahead.”
Sources familiar with the talks stress that the Hayes family are not pushing for a monetary settlement and are still in suffering years after the scandal and are guarding their privacy.
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