Gardaí are continuing to question a man and a woman who were arrested on suspicion of murder in the Kerry Babies case.
The pair - a man in his 60s and a woman in her 50s - were arrested in relation to the discovery of the body of a baby boy at White Strand, Caherciveen, Co Kerry, in April 1984. The baby, who later became known as 'Baby John', was found with multiple stab wounds.
A garda spokesperson said: “A male in his 60s and a female in her 50s were arrested in the Munster region on suspicion of the offence of murder and are currently detained at Garda Stations in the south of the country under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984.”
The pair are being held separately, in Castleisland and in Listowel, for questioning.
It is understood they were arrested in South Kerry and are from the area.
It is understood that Dublin-based detectives from the Garda Serious Crime Review team are leading the investigation and conducting the interviews.
The solicitor for the two suspects has expressed concern about the discussion taking place in the media. He warned some of the comment "from certain quarters" was indiscriminate "and has absolutely no justification in the context of due process".
"Has anyone learned from the previous incarnation of this tragic event?" said solicitor Padraig O’Connell.
The solicitor said he was outraged by some of the discussions taking place on the airwaves.
An extensive investigation into the death of Baby John has been ongoing since 2018 by gardaí in the Kerry Division supported by the Garda Serious Crime Review Team. Hundreds of people have been interviewed and over 560 lines of enquiry have been initiated.
"The arrests are a significant development in this investigation in an effort to establish the truth surrounding the death of Baby John in 1984 and deliver justice for Baby John,” said Superintendent Flor Murphy, who has been leading the investigation
On January 16, 2018, gardaí announced a review into the death of Baby John following a Garda apology to Kerry woman Joanne Hayes, who had been wrongly accused of his murder.
Speaking at the time, Supt Murphy made the following appeal: "On April 14, 1984, on White Strand Beach in Caherciveen the lifeless body of a newborn baby boy was found in a bag. The baby was called Baby John and he is buried here in Caherciveen. We have never found out the full circumstances of the death of Baby John. We need the public’s help to change that.
"Someone is Baby John’s mother. Someone is Baby John’s father. Someone knew his mother or father. People have carried a lot of pain and hurt over the last 30 years. This is an opportunity for them to help bring closure to this terrible event and ensure that Baby John receives justice.
"We would ask anyone who was living in Caherciveen and surrounding areas around the time of April 1984 to speak to us.
"Even the smallest piece of information could be vital.
"Anyone who comes forward will be treated with sensitivity. We will have specially-trained personnel available who are trained in dealing with difficult and sensitive issues in a compassionate and professional manner."
"After all these years, Baby John deserves the truth.”
Baby John was discovered by a farmer, Jack Griffin, on White Strand beach on April 14, 1984. Following the discovery of his body, gardaí turned to women in the area who had recently given birth.
Joanne Hayes had given birth to a baby boy, named Shane, on April 13, 1984, on the family farm, but that child died of natural causes and was buried on the property.
In May 1984 she was arrested in connection with the death of 'Baby John'. In October of that year, all charges against Ms Hayes are dropped. She had repeatedly insisted she had no connection whatsoever to the White Strand infant, and DNA tests subsequently proved the truth of her case.
The Kerry Babies tribunal was established to look into Garda handling of the case and how criminal charges were brought against Ms Hayes, and her family.
However, at its conclusion the tribunal failed to answer the questions of how members of the Hayes family confessed to something they did not do.
The case rocked the country and remains one of the most enduring of its time.
As one observer would later put it, the case opened a “Pandora’s box of hatred and blame and misogyny and misery”.
Solicitor for Ms Hayes, Pat Mann, has today spoken of these latest developments had caused distress for his innocent client, who has been ‘absolutely exonerated’.
"‘From the client’s perspective it’s bringing the whole matter back up again,’ Mr Mann said this morning on radio Kerry.
The media focus was ‘on us again,’ he added.
He had spoken to the Hayes family, the solicitor told Radio Kerry, and it is very distressing for them.
Mr Mann said the ‘watershed moment’ for all of them was the fact the tribunal report was effectively deemed unreliable, he also said.
As well as representing Ms Hayes after she was questioned by gardaí and throughout the subsequent tribunal, Pat Mann was instrumental in securing a High Court apology to Ms Hayes and her family in 2020, as well as a settlement of around €2.5m.
That formal apology had reiterated ones the then Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and acting Garda Commissioner Dónall Ó Cualáin in 2018.
Last September, the body of ‘Baby John’ was exhumed from Holy Cross Cemetery, a move which garda said said it was both “essential and important” in the search for justice.
They also appealed to the baby’s mother to come forward.
It is understood a Garda liaison officer visited Ms Hayes home on Thursday afternoon to inform her of the arrests before they became public.