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  • Senator Sharon Keogan

Senator Sharon Keogan — Remembering Ann Lovett

I thank the Cathaoirleach and appreciate being allowed up before Senator Flynn because I have to attend another meeting at 4 p.m. On this day, Tuesday, 31 January 1984, some 39 years ago, Ann Lovett died aged 15. She and her child were buried in Granardkill cemetery on Friday, 3 February 1984. On Saturday night, 4 February 1984, "The Late Late Show" was coming to an end when the host read the headline from the next day's edition of The Sunday Tribune newspaper: "Girl, 15, dies giving birth in field". "My goodness me", said Gay Byrne, letting the newspaper fall to the floor, "Nothing terribly exciting there."

The Dublin newspaper had already been alerted by an anonymous phone caller and the story was covered by Emily O'Reilly and published on Sunday, 5 February 1984. The then editor of the newspaper, Vincent Browne, made the decision to name Anne, along with giving her address. RTÉ covered the story the day after, on Monday, 6 February 1984. By Tuesday, 7 February, it had been decided that a private inquiry would take place, conducted by officers from the Department of Justice and the Department of Education. The then Minister of State with responsibility for women's affairs and family law, Deputy Nuala Fennell, had called for a full-scale public inquiry, but this was decided against. Over the ensuing two weeks, Gay Byrne would change his tune as his radio show was inundated with letters from women telling some of their stories. He and his team read out letter after letter, with Byrne saying there were too many letters and they could not be ignored.

In the wake of the tragedy, statements were given by bodies such as the Federation of Services for Unmarried Parents and their Children and ALLY, which in 1983 helped 520 unmarried girls to cope with their pregnancies. Ms Gemma Rowley, the chairperson of ALLY, questioned the need to print Ann's name and address. Cherish, an organisation for single parents, also made a statement. Today, Ann's name would not have been mentioned but I wish to remember her in the Seanad today. She was a friend of mine from school and she certainly made an impact on all of those that knew and loved her.

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