TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar has apologised to Joanne Hayes for having been “very badly treated” by the State during the Kerry Babies investigation.
The Taoiseach also said he would look at compensating Ms Hayes.
In 1984, Ms Hayes was charged with the murder of a baby found dead on Whitestrand Beach in Cahirciveen, Co. Kerry.
The case is set to be reviewed after a full DNA profile of the victim was established, which again showed the baby was not Ms Hayes’.
In following the gardaí’s apology on Tuesday, the Taoiseach said the Ireland of the 1980s was very different to the Ireland of today.
“It’s only in recent days and weeks that I’ve finally learned about the Kerry Babies case,” he said.
“I was aware of it of course but I was too young to remember it at the time and it’s been eye-opening for me to learn about that in the last couple of days.
“It reflects, I think, the extent to which Ireland was such a different place in the 1980s than it is now.
“I absolutely want to reiterate the apology that the gardaí have made to Joanne Hayes and also to make that apology on behalf of the State as well.
“I can’t offer compensation here and now but it is something that I think we can discuss with her representatives in the period ahead.
“But I absolutely want to add to the apology made by the gardaí and make that apology on behalf of the State as well, because she evidently is a woman who was very badly treated by our State and by our society in a way that so many other woman have been in the past, and that needs to change."
After the baby was discovered on Whitestrand Beach, Ms Hayes admitted to having given birth to a different child who died, which she then buried on the family farm.
However along with members of her family, she signed statements confessing to the murder of the baby on the beach.
After the body of Ms Hayes’ baby was recovered from the farm, murder charges against her were dropped and the family claimed their statements had been given forcefully.
However Ms Hayes was forced to endure intense questioning about her private life at a tribunal the following year, during which Mr Justice Kevin Lynch rejected claims by the family that they had been intimidated by gardaí into making false confessions.