Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has apologised on behalf of the State to Joanne Hayes for what she suffered during the investigation into what became known as the Kerry Babies case.

Ms Hayes was arrested during the investigation into the discovery of a baby’s body on a beach in Co Kerry in 1984.

Advances in DNA profiling have confirmed that Ms Hayes, as she always maintained, was not the mother of that baby, who was named John.

Ms Hayes had given birth to a baby on the family farm in Abbeydorney, but that baby died and its body was found on the property after the discovery of Baby John had been made.

She was arrested and charged with murder on the grounds that she had been pregnant by two different men and gave birth to both babies.

The murder charge was later dropped and a tribunal of inquiry was set up to investigate the garda handling of her case.

Mr Varadkar said learning about the Kerry Babies case had been "eye-opening" for him and said he wants 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 Ms Hayes was very "badly treated by our State and by our society in a way that so many other women have been in the past and that needs to change".

Mr Varadkar 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."

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Gardaí apologise to Joanne Hayes
Report of the Tribunal of Inquiry published 1985

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan has said he acknowledges the lapse of time in delivering the apology to Ms Hayes, saying it had taken gardaí decades to provide proof of a conclusive nature.

On RTÉ's Six One News, Mr Flanagan said that Ms Hayes' ordeal was horrific and that compensation should be dealt with privately and with speed.

He said: "I believe it was totally unacceptable, the manner of the investigation, perhaps even the terms of reference of the tribunal on the occasion; the presentation of the evidence. Of course, we must ensure that nothing like this ever takes place again and it's important, of course, that we learn lessons. I believe we have done in the ongoing process of garda reform in order to ensure that we don't have a repeat of what was a totally unacceptable ordeal."

Yesterday, gardaí apologised to Ms Hayes for the stress and pain she was put through.

Ms Hayes' solicitor Patrick Mann confirmed that she had received a written apology from gardaí and that the acting Commissioner, Dónall Ó Cualáin, rang to reiterate it in person.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney restated the Taoiseach's apology and said the Government will try to deal with the issue of compensation in "as sensitive a manner as possible".

Speaking in the Dáil, he said he expects it is something the Government can make a quick decision on.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin also welcomed the apology from the Taoiseach and called for adequate, appropriate and fair compensation to be made to Ms Hayes.

Kerry Fianna Fáil TD, John Brassil, who has spoken to the Hayes family, has said Joanne's only request, now, is to be offered the privacy and respect to "live the rest of her life in peace".

Speaking on RTÉ Radio One’s, Drivetime programme, Mr Brassil said the Hayes family has welcomed the apology, but only if it's followed by privacy.

Deputy Brassil said that at no time have Joanne and her family mentioned compensation, but he added he believes it's only ‘just and proper’ that the state has offered it.

He said the reopening of the case caused huge concern for Joanne and yesterday's apology is some consolation.