Mother of murdered Baby John could solve Kerry Babies mystery

AN APPEAL has been launched that could finally help crack one of Ireland’s longest unsolved murder mysteries.
Anybody associated with the brutal death of one of two babies in the infamous 1980s ‘Kerry Babies‘ case has been urged to come forward. The appeal follows other appeals that have attempted to help solve the case ‘once and for all’.

Kerry Babies Joanne Hayes with Patrick Mann
Joanne Hayes arriving for the Tribunal hearings with her lawyer, Patrick Mann, 1984. Copyright: RTE Stills Library.

These appeals, mostly made on the 30th anniversary of the Kerry Babies case, have centred round the use of DNA from the possible exhumation of one of the babies’ bodies.
Indeed, recent reporting of this appeal has mistakenly centred on those same appeals – which were made last year. However, this latest appeal is the first time such a direct appeal has been made to anybody actually associated with the brutal death of one of the babies to come forward since charges in connection with that death were withdrawn against a Kerry woman accused of his murder in 1984. It has also been made just weeks away from the release of documents from the National Archives.
What gardai described as her ‘unnamed male infant’ was found on White Strand in Cahirciveen, Co Kerry on April 14 that year.
Later baptised ‘John’ by an undertaker before his lonely burial, his neck had been broken and he had been stabbed repeatedly in the heart.
Detectives at the time were convinced Ms Hayes was both his mother and his murderer and charged her accordingly.
This was partly because she had given birth to a baby around the same time Baby John was found but there had been doubts about what had subsequently happened to her baby.
The charges were later withdrawn after the baby she gave birth to but which had a different blood type to Baby John was found on her parents’ farm at Abbeydorney, some 70km away from Cahirciveen.
The case ended up a watershed moment in Irish history as it shed light on both questionable garda investigation and interview tactics at the time along with Ireland’s attitude to unmarried mothers.

Kerry Babies Tribunal
A tribunal was subsequently set up to examine garda handling of the case but ended up more of a probe into Ms Hayes’ perceived morals by an all-male panel of inquisitors.
Both Baby John’s true identity and the person who actually killed him has been a mystery ever since.
So too is the identity of the person who has repeatedly attacked his secluded grave in the cemetery on Waterville Road, Cahirciveen.
The last main attack was in 2004, when someone smashed Baby John’s black marble gravestone with a sledge hammer.
Ms Hayes’ long-serving lawyer Patrick Mann has urged anybody who knows anything to come forward and solve the mystery once and for all.
‘It has been just over 30 years now and we are all still none-the-wiser,’ he said. Continue reading Mother of murdered Baby John could solve Kerry Babies mystery

Gardai issue Invoice Redirection Fraud Alert

THIEVES HAVE conned businesses out of €100,000 in a new invoices scam.

The scam has been reported to Gardai, who have just announced they recently detected a ‘pattern of criminal activity’ that has the potential to cause serious financial losses to businesses.

So far, up to 14 cases have been reported, with potential losses of over €5m, however €100k has been stolen.

A number of firms based around the country have received fraudulent instructions in the recent weeks via email or letter which instructed them to record new account details for their various clients.

A Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation spokesperson said: ‘There is no pattern in the fraudulent account details as they involve different financial institutions in both Ireland and the UK.

‘As a result of the various businesses having received these fraudulent instructions, these businesses transferred money to the various bank accounts in payment of due debts.

‘However due to the vigilance of the various financial institutions, most of the money was either prevented from having been sent in the first instance or recovered.’

Detectives are calling on all businesses to conduct an immediate review of any instructions that they have received from customers involving a request for a change of account details.

The spokesperson added: ‘As a security precaution it should be confirmed by verbal contact with the relevant financial control person in each business that purportedly sent change of account instructions as to whether they were genuine instructions or not.

‘Where any business suspects that such an attempt was made or indeed where they have received such a request they should immediately contact their local Garda station and their bank.

‘The Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation are liaising closely with the Banking and Payments Federation of Ireland.’

They recommend people study their Invoice Redirection Fraud Alert Advice Sheet.

Catholic dioceses child practices review to take five years

THE ONGOING review into the Catholic Church’s safeguarding practices could take another five years.

Given the amount of work needed to review child protection practices at all the country’s dioceses, the review is ‘unlikely’ to be completed before 2016.

On Wednesday, when the first set of reviews were published, the National Board of Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church boss Ian Elliott said it would take ‘at least two years’.

But it emerged last night that many of those facing review do not even know when their review is set to start.

Others are simply refusing to say publicly whether or not a review of their child protection policies and practices was either under way or has a date set for when it is due to start.

So far just five dioceses – Ardagh, Dromore, Kilmore, Derry and Raphoe, and the Tuam Archdiocese – have had their reviews completed.

Those reports, which were all critical of the way allegations of abuse had been handled in the past but complimentary of how they are handled now, were published on Tuesday.

They revealed that 164 abuse allegations had been lodged with Gardaí in the past 36 years against 85 priests, but that there were just eight convictions.

But the next round of reports will not be published until next May or June at the earliest, and they will only focus on four dioceses and two congregations.

One diocese to be reviewed is Limerick, where 23 priests have had abuse allegations made against them since 1940, but none have been convicted.

Until 2009, Limerick shared a case management committee with the Diocese of Cloyne.

The committee was heavily criticised in the Cloyne Report for putting the interests of abusers above those of their victims.

Last night, a spokesman for the Limerick diocese said: ‘We can confirm that the Limerick diocese wrote to the NBSCCC in November and requested that it be the next diocese audited by them. We expect this to take place in the Spring.’

Of the 17 dioceses contacted yesterday and asked a range of questions about their priests and the current state of any

NBSCCC review, just two – Down & Connor and Limerick – answered them.

It also emerged last night that the report into Tuam contained a significant error.

In the audit, both the HSE and the gardaí were accused of a series of failures in how they had historically handled allegations of clerical abuse.

But it also made a categorical statement about the current handling of allegation.

It stated: ‘It is often the case that once an allegation is forwarded to (civil authorities), there is a significant delay in establishing if a crime has been committed and if there is any risk to children.’

However, each ‘is’ in the statement should have read ‘was’.

Last night a spokesman for the NBSCCC admitted: ‘This should have referred to matters in a historical sense. It is a mistake.’

A spokeswoman for Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald said last night: ‘We are so far only looking at a very small part of the bigger picture here and the Minister wants to see all the information.

‘She is particularly interested in the outcome of the ongoing HSE audit.’

The release of that report is due in the coming weeks.

And the minister has said she is waiting on the report’s publication before making her mind up about whether or not to hold a full statutory inquiry into clerical abuse.

Michael Lynn in Poland bomb blast probe

DISGRACED developer and former solicitor Michael Lynn is feared to have been the target of a gangland bomb attack.

The fugitive was in a house in Krakow, Poland, when the blast went off. A car, that Polish police think was his, was found at the property shortly after the attack but there was no sign of the 44-year-old from Co. Mayo.

Documents detailing various property deals by his failed firm Kendar Properties were found in the vehicle.

Lynn is believed to have been visiting the house when the bomb went off. It was only after the car was searched that a link to Lynn, who left Ireland more than four years ago owing around €80million, was established.

Police initially thought he might return to the scene and reclaim the car, which has since been moved to a police car pound.

But he has not been in contact with detectives investigating the 2009 incident. They now suspect he might have actually been the target of the bomb – which may have been set off at the property in Krakow as a result of a botched business deal. Detectives do not regard him as a suspect. Instead, he is being described as a witness.

A court hearing in connection with the blast is due to be held over the coming months and authorities have been looking for an address for the developer so a summons can be served on him.

A legal source said last night: ‘We need to find Mr Lynn and speak to him about this incident and to ask him about the car that was found.

He is not being treated as a suspect. Instead, he is being considered as a witness and we have wanted to speak to him since it happened. ‘However, we do not know how to get in touch with him.’

The extraordinary twist is the latest turn of events for Lynn, who is believed to have unwittingly become associated with Eastern European gangsters during his business dealings in Bulgaria.

A file on him has been passed to the Director of Public Prosecutions with a view to issuing a European Arrest Warrant for him. He has repeatedly failed to attend meetings set up by Garda fraud squad detectives.

They now want him arrested and brought back to Ireland for questioning. The Law Society has already ordered him to pay €2million in fines.

Lynn, who was struck off as a solicitor in 2008, was also found guilty of 57 changes of misconduct by a disciplinary hearing.

In January the following year, the Irish Mail on Sunday tracked him down to a secluded villa in Portugal.

In his only interview since absconding from Ireland in December 2007, Lynn denied he was a fraudster or a fugitive. He spoke on the condition that his exact location was not revealed.

In his only interview since absconding from Ireland in December 2007, Lynn he said that he was working to pay back all his debts and he insisted that he did not retain any ownership stake in any of his developments.

The 44-year-old from Co. Mayo denied that he was a fraudster or a fugitive and insisted his only crime was getting caught up in the trappings of the Celtic Tiger, like so many others during the boom.

Lynn told the Irish Mail on Sunday: ‘Today I look in the mirror and ask myself who he was? I am disappointed that I lost some of my own fundamental principles that I was given as a young fellow.

‘I have let my family down and I have let myself down. And that’s difficult and I need to live with that all of the time. But that’s my problem, that’s my bed and I have made it.’

The missing solicitor has been accused of taking out multiple mortgages on the same properties and has estimated liabilities of some €80million.

His assets were valued at around €52.5million and he or his firms were listed as having a staggering 154 bank accounts and dealings concerning 148 properties.

Lynn is known to have visited the UK, Portugal, Bulgaria and the United States and his extensive portfolio of assets includes properties in those countries.

Baby boy abandoned in Carlow Cathedral doorway

THE parents of an abandoned baby boy left him in the doorway of Carlow Cathedral because they feared they would kill him if he stayed in their care.

According to sources in Britain – where they live – the eight-month-old’s father is suffering from depression.

He is said to have been heard threatening that he was going to kill the baby, the baby’s mother and then himself.

The couple are believed to be distraught over custody and access issues and took the child while on an arranged access visit to the baby’s legal guardian.

However, it now appears they had a change of heart after they took the child from its home in Ashfield, in Nottinghamshire.

Instead, they jumped on a ferry and arrived in Ireland – making their way to Carlow town, where they decided to abandon the boy on Friday evening.

He was found by a local woman – in his buggy, with a piece of paper detailing his full name and date of birth – at the entrance to the Cathedral of the Assumption.

She immediately told cathedral staff, and then contacted the gardaí – who, in turn, contacted police in Britain .

The woman had first spotted the baby’s mother in tears in the porch of the cathedral and had approached, asking if she was okay.

The woman replied that she was but admitted she was leaving her child behind before hurrying away.

The couple, who are believed to have arrived in Ireland early on Friday morning, are now believed to be back in Britain .

The baby boy, who had been reported missing from Ashfield at 11am on Thursday, is not due to be returned to his legal guardian until Monday at the earliest.

Meanwhile, he remains in the care of HSE officials and there are moves to ensure a care order is made by British authorities.

A source close to the investigation told the Irish Mail on Sunday last night: ‘This is a very sad case and is a family matter that has gone very, very wrong.

‘Thankfully, the parents had a change of mind about their plans and the baby is safe.’

British authorities remain concerned about the welfare of the baby’s parents are waiting to question them in detail when – or if – they arrive home.

Last night, a Garda spokesman said: ‘We’re happy enough that they’ve skipped back to England. Our enquiries suggest that the man and woman left Dublin Port this morning en route to Holyhead.’

A Nottinghamshire Police spokesman said: ‘Police had worked extensively to locate the child and had already established that he may have been taken to Ireland when the Irish police confirmed that he had been found safe and well on the steps of a cathedral in Carlow.

‘There was a note attached to the boy giving his name and date of birth. The boy is now in the care of the authorities in Ireland and is expected to be reunited with his legal guardian next week.

‘We are now concerned for the welfare of the man and woman who are believed to have been involved in this incident.

‘Anyone with information is asked to ring Mansfield and Ashfield Police on 0044 300 300 9999.’

Fr John Cummins, the Administrator of the Cathedral Parish, said: ‘As I understand it, there were two women involved with finding the baby.

‘One of them met a couple who were in distress but I gather they left and another noticed the baby was on its own in the buggy and called the parish office.’

He added: ‘I wasn’t around at the time and I didn’t believe it when they rang me, to be honest.

‘I thought the parents must have just left the child for a few minutes at the doorway when they went up to light a candle or something.

‘I wasn’t expecting to hear that. It sounds like something that would have happened years ago.’ Fr Cummins added: ‘I don’t know anything about the people who left the child there but it just sounds like, for whatever reason, they couldn’t cope.

‘You hear about things like postnatal depression. I think it says a lot about the need to support young mothers and families.’

Model Katy French has died.

 

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MODEL Katy French has died in the arms of her sister after falling into a coma. Doctors had fought a five-day battle to save the 24-year-old, who had been rushed to hospital after reportedly falling ill at a house in Co Meath in the early hours of Sunday morning,

She had apparently collapsed at the Kilmessan house sometime between 6am and 10am and was then admitted to Our Lady’s Hospital in Navan, 15 minutes away.

The news of her death – which was flashed around the world and made US-based Fox News as well as as UK-based broadcaster Sky News and BBC News 24’s Breaking News section within minutes – was confirmed by hospital staff in a brief statement and comes as the Gardai have launched a drug probe into her death.

It came exactly one week after she celebrated her 24th birthday with a lavish Dublin city centre bash in Harcourt Street’s Krystal night club – which cancelled its first birthday celebrations tonight as a mark of respect to one of its more celebrated former clients – and just weeks after she admitted how her life had been destroyed by cocaine.

The moving statement, which was released on behalf of Katy French’s family stated: ‘Katy passed away peacefully in the arms of her sister Jill and alongside her Mum and Dad.

‘Her family thanks everyone so much for all the prayers and support and especially all the staff in Navan Hospital who gave her special care and attention throughout.’

The 7.01pm statement tonight added: ‘We have been overwhelmed by the letters, blessings, gifts and prayers from people all over the country.

‘It gave us strength and helped Katy so much. Although we did not get our yearned for miracle, all the expressions of love you sent her were powerfully healing in different ways. And we hope that you can continue to send your love to her as she journeys on.’

About two hours later, Katy’s body was taken away from the hospital in a hearse, watched in silence by waiting reporters, photographers and stunned well-wishers and patients.

 

It was revealed yesterday that one of the model’s friends with her on the night she fell ill was socialite Kieron Ducie. He admitted: ‘I was one of the people who helped her, but I don’t want to say any more about it.’

The circumstances leading up to her collapsing at the Kilmessan house are look set to form the basis of a Gardai investigation, which is expected to be wide-ranging.

 

They confirmed that they are satisfied the model was not attending a party in the house where she fell ill but had instead been a visitor.

Katy’s brand new Range Rover had been seen parked outside Ducie’s house throughout the weekend, although it was removed by a friend shortly after she was hospitalised.

Three occupants of the house at the time have been questioned and are said to be co-operating fully with what is so far being described as a preliminary investigation into Katy’s death.

It is not known as yet if one of those occupants was Kieron’s 32-year-old wife Claire, a hairdresser and stylist. However, they are believed to have split a few years ago. Ducie, who comes from a respectable and wealthy Meath family headed by haulier Kevin Snr, has not been seen at the house in Kilmessan – where Katy was a regular visitor – for the past two days.

He is said by his younger brother Darren to be ‘very upset’ about what has happened.

A Garda spokesman had said before her death was made known: ‘We have received no complaint in connection with her illness, and – as a result – there is no basis for a full investigation.’

However, a short while later a spokesman added that officers were ‘continuing their enquiries and there will be no further details until the results of a post mortem are known’.

Someone from the State Pathologist’s office will conduct the post mortem – which will include a toxicology report – tomorrow afternoon, the funeral is due in a few days time and a full inquest in her death is likely to take place next January.

Since her arrival in the hospital, friends and family had been keeping a vigil at Katy’s bedside in the hospital’s intensive care unit and her condition had been described as ‘critical’ and she was believed to have been in a coma.

On Wednesday, doctors had hoped to be able to take Katy off her ventilator and let her breath on her own. Attempts on Monday and Tuesday had, however failed and at the time – experts had give her just a 20% chance of surviving.

A special Bebo tribute page had been set up by friends, where messages of support and well wishes had been posted over the past few days.

By 7pm tonight, the site had 609 members, who included fellow Assets models Jenny Lee Masterson and Michelle McGrath, who wrote: ‘Get well soon babe! know u can pull htrough this. UR a fighter . . . all my prayers and thoughts are with you and UR family . . . All my love, Shellxxxxxxx.’

 

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As well as collapsing, Katy – who had told reporters just days ago that she was on medication for a kidney complaint – was believed to have a suffered multiple heart attacks.

It is not known what triggered Katy’s illness but reports that she had possibly contracted meningitis were dismissed by medical experts.

As a mark of respect for Katy’s family, the planned launch of Irish Wedding Planner was called off, as it had been due to feature the model in a 12-page spread.

Boyzone star Keith Duffy said: ‘It’s a tragic situation, and my prayers and thoughts are with the family.’

At her 24th birthday party last Thursday, Katy revealed that she had a kidney infection and that she wasn’t planning to drink that night because she was on antibiotics. She had also joked that her gold mini dress wasn’t the best outfit to be wearing with an infection.

It was while perched on the back seat of the Rolls that dropped her off at the party that she was photographed by the Evening Herald – a tabloid owned by Sunday Independent and Independent newspapers publisher Independent News & Media.

The resulting story which appeared the following day zoomed in on a section of the underside of her left thigh and ran a P3 piece under the headline ‘Uh-oh Katy, is that dreaded cellulite we can see?’.

The article made snide remarks about the quality of Katy’s guests – saying that ‘rather then the A-list glitterati anticipated, those who joined in the fun were more local-list.’ It later added that ‘despite the less than A-list turnout’, Katy ‘had a blast’.

It is not known how she felt about the hurtful article, but it would have been the first newspaper report of her big event.

The house she had visited on Sunday is believed to have been one of a number of stop-offs she made in an almost non-stop round of partying. She is believed to have ‘hardly slept’ between Thursday night and Sunday morning.

Last weekend, Katy told a Sunday tabloid newspaper that she had taken cocaine in the past.

She revealed: ‘Cocaine messed my head up and is something I never want to go back to.
‘I’ve seen some of my friends almost losing everything because of coke but it’s not something that will happen to me.

‘Life is tough enough without self-inflicted pain, and that’s what coke is,’ she said.
And she had warned: ‘When you are doing coke the highs are great, but the lows are very, very low.’

The death of the former lingerie model, who shot to prominence after a very public split from her boyfriend Marcus Sweeney earlier this year, is the final chapter on a life that had been led very much in the spotlight.

Despite receiving more than her fair share of knockbacks, she battled on with her one-woman brand of self-promotion, and, as recently as last Thursday, she invited the press to her 24th birthday celebrations which she herself termed ‘a media event’.

She lived in Switzerland – where she was born – until she was about 2 ½ , when she and her family moved back to Ireland. Mother Janet was head of marketing at Guinness before setting up an online marketing company, Evotia.

Father John, who is a former MD of Novartis Pharmaceutical, split from Janet about two years ago but had maintained a united front as far as Katy was concerned, especially in her last few days.

The family lived in a large house in Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow, where Katy was able to indulge in her love of horse riding.

Katy went to Milltown’s exclusive Alexandra College, where she sat her Leaving Cert before going on to study sociology and psychology at University College Dublin.

She followed this up by joining the Dublin-based Assets Modelling Agency in the summer of 2002.

At the time, she told reporters: ‘A few people had mentioned (modeling) to me before and I just thought one day it would be a great way of making some extra money and having fun as well. ‘I don’t think it was ever about the glamour of it, it was more a business venture for me.’

With her good nature, sense of humour and dedication, she was very soon gracing the pages of the country’s newspapers. She soon became something of an It Girl about town, and – in just a short space of time – managed to land lucrative contracts with a variety of household companies such as Pepsi and Dunnes Stores.

But while she was undeniably successful, it wasn’t until January that she shot to national prominence after her fiancé Marcus took grave exception to Katy’s penchant for taking her clothes off to model.

The one-time happy couple, who were often spotted on the Dublin party scene, had intended to tie the knot in the spring, in the eternal city of Rome. But the photo shoot in Number 10 restaurant in South William Street put paid to that.

Any hopes of a reconciliation after the modelling row came to a swift end when Marcus sent Katy a barrage of abusive text messages – which somehow they all ended up being reprinted in a newspaper.

In the ensuing fight back, Marcus let slip that Katy had spurned his modest engagement ring in favour of a much larger, shinier and more ostentatious version, which she picked up from a wear for E14.

She managed to capitalize on the split – some would say – spectacularly well and made the break to a wider audience when she landed a place on RTÉ’s Celebrities Go Wild, for People In Need, as well as appearing on a number of chat shows, including a memorable appearance on the Late Late in which she shared a coffin with a boa constrictor.

The stunt was a part of the show where viewers voted on which of four celebrities should confront their fears and phobias. It’ll come as no surprise that the attractive blonde was the viewers’ top choice.

Katy bravely spent 30 seconds in the coffin with the Burmese python and, in doing so, earned e15,000 for Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin, Co. Dublin.

She completed three other tasks, with each one earning her charity €5,000. At the time, she said she endured the gruesome tasks in honour of a cousin who died, aged 21, of cystic fibrosis, and the children of two close friends who died of leukaemia.

 

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Katy said: ‘What I had to do looked and felt a bit sickening – believe me, sticking your face in a container full of maggots is no fun at all. And being locked in with the python was pretty damned frightening.

‘But it all pales into insignificance compared to what other people who suffer from illnesses have to endure.

‘There is nothing my aunt and uncle wouldn’t do to bring back their son, Simon. I was very close to him when I was growing up and he had a terrible time before he died. It broke so many people’s hearts to lose him so young.

‘I’m just really glad that members of the public voted for me to do what I had to do because it raised e30,000 for a very worthwhile cause.’

Her previous boyfriends have included car dealer, Damien Gilson, the brother of fellow model Glenda. Katy was pitted against Glenda earlier this year by the bookies, in a contest over who would earn the most column inches.

Katy was said to be disappointed to have lost – and redoubled her efforts in the subsequent months.

She has also been linked with marketing man Ivan Cummins, and was even briefly engaged to Sasha Evans, who ran the now defunct Bridge Café in Ballsbridge.

Her friends include top model and Assets model boss Andrea Roche, and You’re A Star judge and columnist Brendan O’Connor – with whom she had become increasingly close over the past few months.

Her publicly stated view on abortion – that she would not bring a child into the world if she could not provide for it – earned her the tag ‘controversial’, and may have contributed to her being the first person voted off Celebrities Go Wild.

And her recent admission that she has taken cocaine in the past, having previously denied touching hard drugs, had left commentators baffled.

She said only last week: ‘Things in the papers constantly upset me, but, you see, I’m kind of my own publicist.

‘I’m only 24 – I don’t always know necessarily what is the right PR way to do things.’

Her mother, Janet, said at the time: ‘Sometimes she says to me that she’s seen a website chat and it’s awful the things they’ve said about her.

‘Sometimes she’s okay about it but sometimes it gets her down. I say to her, “A lot of people have written rotten things but a lot of people have written good things.

‘Which ones do you want to listen to? You cannot be loved by everybody. Nobody can.”’

And her father, John, said: ‘I think Katy was miscalculated as simply a blonde model.’

ENDS

Met Police chief slams Gardai’s turban ban

BRITAIN’S HIGHEST ranking Sikh police officer last night condemned the Garda ban on turbans as ‘racist and antiquated’.

Chief Inspector Raj Kohli was responding to the decision last week to stop a Garda reservist from wearing the Sikh head gear.

He told the Irish Mail on Sunday: ‘It is extraordinary that in this day and age a turban is such an issue.

‘The attitude of the Garda is similar to that of UK police force in the 1970s.

‘I can understand that they would take such a stance but they are being fundamentally naïve.’ And he questioned claims by senior gardaí on an RTÉ Prime Time programme on Wednesday night that they had extensively researched the issue before reaching their decision.

Metropolitan Police Chief Inspector Kohli, who is based at the Met’s Earl’s Court headquarters in west London, said: ‘I am the most senior serving Sikh officer in the UK.

‘And I am very active in the Sikh Police Officers Association, which is the only organisation of its kind in the world.

‘It receives requests for information from police forces all round the world, but it has never been approached by the Garda.

‘I would have thought that if anyone was seriously interested in dealing with turbans as an issue they would have given me a call.

‘I would have been more than happy to help out in any way with advice.’ And he added: ‘I would go so far as to say that the gardaí had already made up their minds on this issue.

‘Whatever anybody says about England and Ireland, they are closest neighbours in cultural terms.

‘Sure we have our problems with integration issues but we have moved on and the whole issue of whether people can or cannot wear a turban is long gone.’ Garda commissioner Noel Conroy denied his force was being racist and said the decision was made to uphold the Garda’s reputation as a religiously impartial police force.

On his own experience of wearing a turban on duty, London-born Chief Inspector Kohli said it had never had any negative impact on the way he has worked as a police officer since he joined the force in 1992.

The turban is important to him and other practising Sikhs because it is one of the five ‘signs’ of Ks of Sikhism.

They include Kirpan (dagger), Kesh (hair) and Kara (steel bracelet). The dagger symbolises the wearer as a member of a warrior nation. The significance of long hair – which must be covered by a turban – is that it is a gift from God.

And the bracelet represents, among other things, the importance of equality between men and women.

The 41-year- old father- of-two said: ‘When I joined the force, I was sent to the uniform room and couldn’t believe they actually had special fabric set aside for turbans.

‘My sister’s ex-husband was the first Sikh officer in the UK and he wore his turban with pride, so I did not expect to have any problems wearing it.

‘I get as much abuse as my white colleagues while I am in uniform and I get racial abuse when I am in my civilian clothes because that’s just the way things are.

‘But I have no problem wearing my turban and being proud of my religion. ‘If other people have a problem with that, then that is up to them.’ He pointed out the practical sides to wearing a turban.

As well as keeping his head warm, and serving as a way of helping wedge his police radio ear piece firmly into place at the side of his head, it can provide protective padding against blows to the side of the head.

He said: ‘It’s pretty good on the sides, although the top is a bit exposed in terms of padding.’ A fully trained riot-squad officer, the only time he takes his turban off is if he is called to attend a riot and needs to don the classic NATO helmet with its pull-down hard plastic visor and internal head set communications.

He said: ‘While I always want to be able to wear my turban, I have to be realistic and pragmatic.

‘Because I have undergone Level 2 Public Order training, I can find myself in the thick of things and I will take it off if I feel I stand a serious risk of getting injured.

‘I know I’m no use to anyone if I get injured in a riot. ‘As well as not being able to command my men, I would also compromise their safety.’