Gardaí have apologised to Joanne Hayes for the stress and pain she was put through as part of the original investigation into the murder of 'Baby John' in Kerry in 1984.

At a garda press briefing this afternoon, Superintendent Flor Murphy said it was a matter of significant regret for An Garda Síochána that it had taken such a long time for it to be confirmed that Ms Hayes was not the mother of baby John.

The newborn's body was found at White Strand in Cahersiveen on 14 April 1984 with multiple injuries and had died from stab wounds.

The subsequent discovery of the body of a second baby on a farm near Abbeydorney outside Tralee, eventually led to a tribunal of inquiry and a case that became known as the Kerry Babies case.

Ms Hayes had given birth to a baby boy on the family farm in Abbeydorney, but the baby had died and its body was found on the property.

This baby shared the same blood type as Ms Hayes and its father, Jeremiah Locke.

Gardaí arrested her on the grounds that she had been pregnant by two different men and gave birth to both babies.

The murder charge was dropped later that year and a tribunal was set up to investigate the garda handling into the case.

The tribunal found that Ms Hayes was not the mother of the Cahersiveen baby, as she had always maintained.

The mystery surrounding the death of Baby John and the discovery of his body has never been solved.

A full DNA profile has been established from a blood sample taken at the time and preserved by gardaí.

The DNA profile, generated by members of the Forensic Science Laboratory, confirmed that Ms Hayes was not the mother of Baby John.

From the RTÉ Archives:

Report of the Tribunal of Inquiry published 1985
Garda treatment over Kerry Babies case
Kerry Babies Tribunal findings
Support for Joanne Hayes 

Supt Murphy said: "It is a matter of significant regret for An Garda Síochána that it has taken such a long time for it to be confirmed that Ms Hayes is not the mother of Baby John

"On behalf of An Garda Síochána, I would like to sincerely apologise to Ms Hayes for that, as well as the awful stress and pain she has been put through as a result of the original investigation into this matter, which fell well short of the required standards".

Supt Murphy also said that acting Garda Commissioner Dónall Ó Cualáin had spoken directly to Ms Hayes this morning.

Supt Murphy said Ms Hayes had also received a letter of apology from the acting Commissioner Ó Cualáin and had accepted that apology.

The superintendent added that the tribunal, which was led by Mr Justice Kevin Lynch, "rightly criticised many aspects of that investigation. For those failings, I apologise".

Supt Murphy said that "after all these years Baby John deserves the truth".

Ms Hayes' solicitor Patrick Mann confirmed that his client had received a written apology from gardaí and that the acting Commissioner rang to reiterate it in person.

Mr Mann said he would not comment on Ms Hayes' reaction to receiving the apology, or the content of it, and that his client asked that people would respect her privacy.

He welcome the reopened investigation into the death of Baby John but said he did not want the focus turned back on his client as she never had anything to do with it.

Further reporting:

Baby John and the 33-year investigation

Gardaí said advances in technology had allowed a viable DNA profile to be obtained from samples taken from Baby John in the course of the original investigation.

Supt Murphy said Ms Hayes had been informed of the results of the investigation and that the Acting Garda Commissioner has written to and spoken to her to formally apologise.

Supt Murphy said he wanted to reassure the public that this will be a thorough and professional investigation and that the current investigation team is determined to find the answers into what happened to baby John.

Supt Murphy said: "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".

He said gardaí believe the answers are in the Cahersiveen and the close surrounding area and appealed to anyone with information to come forward.

"Anyone who comes forward will be treated with sensitivity. We have specially trained personnel available who are trained in dealing with difficult and sensitive issues in a compassionate manner.

"Please help us find that truth for Baby John by contacting us here in Cahersiveen on 066 9473610 or the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111".