A politician who is close to the Hayes family at the centre of the Kerry Babies controversy has said any potential fresh investigation into how gardaí obtained signed statements about what happened should only take place if it leaves the family alone.
Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan suggested that a new investigation may be launched, but Fianna Fáil TD John Brassil said Joanne Hayes and her family must not be subjected to further “interrogation” over the trauma they suffered.
Speaking on Six One News on Wednesday, Mr Flanagan said a second inquiry into what happened and how the Hayes family was treated 34 years ago may need to take place to bring definitive closure to what happened.
Asked specifically if he feels a new investigation into how gardaí obtained signed statements from the Hayes family at the time of the case, Mr Flanagan said: “Yes. I believe there is merit in having that process, although one has to take into consideration the fact that some of those involved are dead. Many more are retired. So it may be difficult to provide a conclusive level of evidence.”
A Department of Justice spokesman said last night the family has “appealed for privacy and in this context we do not propose to discuss details of interactions with Ms Hayes or her legal representatives”.
The spokesman added that Mr Flanagan and his officials “are undertaking work on this sensitive case and will brief the cabinet and the Government will decide a course of action in the coming weeks”.
However, speaking to the Irish Examiner, Mr Brassil — who knows the Hayes family — said any such investigation must only occur if it leaves the Hayes family alone and does not subject them to further traumatic “interrogation”.
“The family have been very clear that they have suffered enough over the last 33 or 34 years and want to be left alone,” he said.
“It has been conclusively proven baby John was unconnected to them. Whatever happens now, whatever investigation takes place, they are very clear it should not concern them.
“My own view on whether there is merit in another investigation into the signed statements is that it should only happen with the full consent of the Hayes family.
“I don’t believe that full consent will be immediately forthcoming, so any investigation should not involve the Hayes family. They’ve been through enough.”
The comments were made after Taoiseach Leo Varadkar offered an apology to the Hayes family on behalf of the State and appeared to pave the way for compensation being given to Ms Hayes and her relatives.
“I absolutely want to reiterate the apology the gardaí made to Joanne Hayes and also to make that apology on behalf of the State as well,” he said. “I can’t offer compensation here now, but it is something that I think we can discuss with her representatives in the period ahead.”
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