Joanne Hayes: Wrongly accused of murder in a stifling, condemnatory environment

The tragic, horrific and utterly heartbreaking events relating to the discovery of an innocent, newborn infant’s body on the 14th April, 1984 on White Strand beach outside of Caherciveen, County Kerry not only shocked our entire nation, it quite literally changed us forever.

Last weekend, (following what has been described as an extensive Garda investigation, ongoing since 2018), a man and a woman were arrested and questioned regarding the infant’s death. I must stress at this point that they were released without charge. According to reports a file will now be prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Baby John, as this little infant was named, (also known as ‘the Kerry baby’) was only five days old when he, according to the results of a postmortem, died as a result of ‘a total of 28 stab wounds and a fractured spine’.

Today, this innocent little angel’s body lies resting in the Holy Cross Cemetery in Caherciveen. As someone who remembers this firestorm, I believe it’s fair to say that the sordid, sick and shameful saga surrounding baby John’s death not only forced this nation to grudgingly confront the truth about how it treated women; it also set off a chain of events which have brought shame on the entire State.

The hypocrisy, the institutional patriarchy and the misogyny which prevailed in Ireland at that time not only meant that fear was the norm for Irish women, it also led to an entirely innocent woman, Joanne Hayes, (a then 25-year-old ‘single mother’), being witch-hunted, arrested and wrongly accused of baby John’s murder.

Indeed, even when blood tests showed that Joanne – and Jeremiah Locke, the man she was in a relationship with – could not have been the parents of baby John, investigating Gardaí actually put forward an outlandish theory that she had bizarrely given birth to ‘twins’ who had ‘different fathers’.

Back then, the State, and the Catholic Church who, due to its oppressive and dictatorial weight (which bore down on all aspects of society, even going as far as crafting the curriculum for State schools), were firmly in control, rendering women little or no say over their bodies. It was this stifling and condemnatory environment in which Joanne Hayes was reviled, berated, belittled and wrongly accused of the murder most foul of a tiny, helpless, innocent newborn infant.

Nearly four decades on, Ireland, and indeed Joanne Hayes, the strong, resilient mother who, despite being isolated, marginalised and oppressed by hypocrites, chose to have two children on her own, are not only hoping for closure – we’re all hoping that justice will finally be delivered for a helpless, innocent infant.

I cannot let this week go by without also mentioning what is another dark, depressing and horrific chapter in our history; that of the devastating death of 15-year-old schoolgirl Ann Lovett and her beautiful baby boy at a lonely grotto in Granard, County Longford.

Ann and her infant died alone on 31st of January 1984, as the statue of the Virgin Mary looked down on her suffering, and as the State’s and the Catholic Church’s rallying cry culminated in their sanctimonious anti-choice ethos.

The stories of Baby John, Ann Lovett and her baby boy are just two chapters in the shocking horror story of how our nation once tried to cover up how we punished, neglected, abused and shunned our women; disgustingly undervaluing not just their lives, but the lives of their innocent children. To this day, Baby John remains ‘unclaimed’. May his beautiful, innocent soul, along with Ann Lovett’s and her infant son’s, rest in peace.


It’s spring – and I’m officially high on housework!

Spring has finally sprung, and, while I lament the lost hour spent in the leaba, I have to admit I just adore the longer evenings, for the simple reason they make me feel like a newly-released prisoner who’s spent the entire winter incarcerated in a dark and dreary cell.

Mind you readers, the onset of spring also tends to send my OCD’s-need-to-clean into overdrive, morphing me into a kind of  bargain-basement version of Marie Kondo as I declutter and feng shui everything from the bathroom to the dogs’ bedroom.

Yes folks, it’s fair to say, that this week, I’m officially high on housework…or perhaps that’s just the fumes from the stuff I used to clean my oven! Either way, I’m a ritualised spring-cleaner, gripped by the urge to purge everything that’s not nailed down.

In fact poor, long-suffering hubby, (a hoarder who leaves a trail of debris around the house…tools, phone chargers, useless pieces of junk he calls ‘treasure’) says that if there was any documented medical evidence that spring cleaning was an official ‘medical’ condition, he’d see about getting me ‘diagnosed, treated and cured’ ASAP! The cheek!

According to reports, murderer Graham Dwyer was so confident he’d win his appeal against his conviction for the 2012 murder of Elaine O’Hara, he’d actually ‘planned a new life abroad’, to ‘start afresh’. Wow, cocky or what?

Readers may remember how a great deal of the evidence against this sadistic individual was focused on text messages between a ‘master phone’ used by himself, and a ‘slave phone’ used by his vulnerable victim Ms O’Hara, who he murdered for his own sexual gratification.

Given the gruesome details which emerged about Dwyer during the trial, I for one hope this cold-blooded killer, (who, with a wife and family, a job as an architect and house in Dublin’s plush Foxrock, clearly once believed he ‘had it all’), remains behind bars.

However it seems not all people feel the same as me. Bizarrely, according to reports, Dwyer has been receiving plenty of support from individuals ‘on the outside’. To be precise, that support has been coming from women; or ‘certifiable prison groupies’ as I call them. I believe the term used by medical experts is the ‘Bonnie and Clyde Syndrome’.

In fact, one of these groupies has written to Dwyer, stating how she’d stand by him ‘no matter what’. Seriously love, how desperate do you have to be to actively pursue a man behind bars…and not just any man, but one who has callously, cold-bloodedly and deliberately murdered another woman? A bit of advice hon: if you’re that fame-hungry, why don’t you just apply to be on Gogglebox?