“I Remember Just Falling To The Ground”

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Front page coverage of Majella Moynihan in the Irish Times on February 6, 1985 (top) and on page 3 in the Irish Independent (above) on February 7, 1985.

In RTÉ’s documentary The Case of Majella Moynihan, Majella recalled how she fell to the ground when she learned that details of an internal Garda investigation into her had been printed in the national newspapers.

In addition to the articles above, on page 13 in The Irish Times, on February 6, 1985, Mary Maher wrote a background piece on Majella’s story which was headlined: “Did baby bring discredit on the Force?”.

In the piece, Ms Maher reported:

There have, in fact, been several unmarried ban-ghardai who have become pregnant while members of the force in recent years.

“Some of them at least appear to have been dealt with in a very humane fashion whether or not disciplinary proceedings were involved.

“One woman was transferred following the birth of her baby to a location near her home, where arrangements were made to care for the baby while she continued working.

“In another case, a pregnant ban-gharda was instructed by her superior to marry the father of her child, but succeeded in resisting the instruction and retained her post.

“In another case, however, a recruit who was accepted on the force after the initial medical examination, was found to be pregnant when she was called up several months later. She was dismissed.”

The newspaper articles on Majella, although anonymous, appeared after she was told that she would not be dismissed and that the charges against her – related to premarital sex and giving birth outside marriage – were dropped.

She was informed that the charges were dropped after the then Archbishop of Dublin Kevin McNamara advised the then Garda Commissioner Larry Wren that such a conviction might encourage other gardaí to travel to the UK for abortions.

She told the documentary:

“I was coming in to duty one morning and an inspector approached me on the steps of Store St and said ‘Majella, please come to the office’ and I went ‘Please, Inspector, leave me alone, I can’t take anymore’ and he said ‘You have to come up’.

“So we went up to the office, and there was the papers on the table and he said ‘You’ve made the headlines’ and I remember just falling to the ground and just saying ‘What else are ye going to do to me?’.

“I felt totally betrayed at that stage again, that some member of the Gardaí had given it to the papers. And the charge sheets and everything. The only thing that wasn’t was my name wasn’t mentioned.

“For me, when I saw it on the papers, I just felt totally violated again and that my whole life was out there in the media and that everybody was reading it and it was on the Six O’Clock news as well and I was sitting in the sitting-room and my father was watching the news and he said to me ‘Do you know that girl?’ and I said ‘No’ and little did he know that it was me.”

Earlier: “I’ve Heard From Nobody”

Clippings: Irish Newspaper Archives and Irish Times

39 thoughts on ““I Remember Just Falling To The Ground”

    1. Vanessa the Holy Face of Frilly Keane

      I know
      But that’s the way it was then

      IMO anyway
      I think the Church got more proactive in directing the State, and butting into HR matters n the 80s because you had a divorce referendum and an abortion referendum and the Eileen Flynn case
      Shur’ here

      I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that their Press Office got activated around that time – where Ronan Mullen got the start

  1. Vanessa the Holy Face of Frilly Keane

    I know
    But that’s the way it was then

    IMO anyway
    I think the Church got more proactive in directing the State, and butting into HR matters n the 80s because you had a divorce referendum and an abortion referendum and the Eileen Flynn case
    Shur’ here
    https://www.broadsheet.ie/2018/02/09/i-expect-you-to-keep-us-honest/

    I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that their Press Office got activated around that time – where Ronan Mullen got the start

  2. Mattress Pat

    “In another case, however, a recruit who was accepted on the force after the initial medical examination, was found to be pregnant when she was called up several months later. She was dismissed.”

    What’s the problem here?

  3. eoin

    In the case of the male Garda, “he faces dismissal. His case is with the Department of Justice [where Michael Noonan was the minister] which customarily ratifies decisions in situations of this kind”

    Doesn’t sound like “an internal Garda matter” to me, does it Michael [who is, despite his low profile these days, still a FG government TD on the backbenches].

    Also, Prionsias apart, where were the rest of the 166 TDs?

    [PS, well done Bodger for getting these clippings, great service because they’re not really available online]

  4. eoin

    When the pregnancy became apparent, Majella was moved from Dublin to Cork (that’ll learn her!) and the male Garda was moved to Monaghan (that’ll have learned him even more!). Both moves were ordered by Garda commissioner, Larry Wren (who died in 2016).

      1. eoin

        Thanks Daisy [ps, what’s the story with the Village, I haven’t seen it in the shops for ages, did that Michael Colgan alleged defamation case wipe them out?]

  5. postmanpat

    Why should anyone be concerned with any of this ? Surely there’s more pressing problems the world right now. Stories involving “illegitimate” children . church blah morality blah Garda blah blah blah blah. get a public apology . no no I want a private apology, . get a private apology/ no no I want a public apology. blah blah f—in blah. Who cares? really??? You can dig these kind of stories up from back in the day all the time. what is the point.? Are BS going to cover this every day now? It’s not an interesting story, I hate to break it to everyone. At the end of the day people made decisions. people make /stick by and regret decisions all the time . I know what Id think of a parent who chose a damn career in the horrible fuzz over their child, but guess what? no one cares, this whole story is a distraction .Its the type of emotional rubbish RTE calculatedly wheel out to get peoples heckles up. It makes it seem like a left leaning broadcaster which is isn’t and never will be. Meanwhile the real current stories that people might actually be able to get involved in an fix the country and the environment are pushed aside. This documentary isn’t even an eyebrow raising curiosity. Nothing in the story comes as any surprise to anyone. Police force dodgy (who knew) Ireland was ultra conservative (shocker!!!) The newspapers used old terminology that wouldn’t be used now (gasp!!!) Most people don’t watch terrestrial TV in the evenings. There’s 100x more worthwhile shows people are watching online and the only reason RTE make these shows is all the money they steal through license fees. I didn’t even know about this documentary, most visitors to this site didn’t either, and didn’t need to know either because the story is boring and redundant. But BS are at it again shilling for RTE as usual.

    1. dylad

      Please stop typing invective with your thumb and remember that not everyone is as all knowing as you.
      It’s good to learn from history and this is actually interesting recent social history, and will be of news for those people who are fortunate not to have lived through this.

      1. Al Bin Man

        True but Pat also had a very valid point there

        One of the few commenters who always has something original and interesting to say in fact

  6. eoin

    “In another case, however, a recruit who was accepted on the force after the initial medical examination, was found to be pregnant when she was called up several months later. She was dismissed.”

    And, cross referencing that fact with the fact reported in the Irish Times that such dismissal decisions will have to have been approved by the Dept of Justice [Michael Noonan], looks like someone should be doorstepping Michael.

    1. Cian

      It is likely that that other pregnant woman wasn’t actually employed by the Gardaí – she hadn’t been called up – so the ‘dismissal’ wouldn’t need to go to the Minister.

  7. Catherine costelloe

    Wow! And a uniformed garda is now filmed having it off on the bonnet of a Garda car with a stripper. Standards….you’d have to laugh.

  8. Paulus

    What’s surprising, and disappointing is how subservient Jack Marrinan was towards the system:
    I remember him well as the face of the GRA for many years but I didn’t realise how readily he acquiesced here.
    Different times I suppose; the GRA is surely less under-the-thumb these days?

    1. Ian-O

      0AD/CE – Who cares?

      1916-1921 – Who cares?

      1939-45 – Who cares?

      Thing is, people apparently do care, even you cared enough to post about it. I posted some of the bigger dates but this case is very important to subsequent generations of Irish as to how utterly dismal life was for certain people who did certain things in Ireland of that time. Even those who stuck to the ‘rules’ were not considered capable of watching movies like the Life of Brian because of the Church and its influence over the country.

      So feel free to express your opinion, a good proportion of the rest of us are very curious as to the minutiae of this case.

    1. Vanessa the Holy Face of Frilly Keane

      Cheezus knows why Lil

      What’s even more galling
      And infuriating
      Is that Nuala Fennell was a Junior Minister in that Government

      Take a seat now Lil
      Minister of State – responsibility for Women’s Affairs and Family Law

      From the Irish Women’s Lib Movement to that
      Hypocrisy and Self Interest is the most prominent feature of the Irish DNA

      Equality huh

        1. Vanessa the Holy Face of Frilly Keane

          D’ya know looking back now
          And those news clippings
          Even the texture of the newsprint and greasy ink
          Brings it all back

          It doesn’t surprise really
          Shouty Mouthy Rhetoric, Demonstrations and Empty Platforming
          Until they get what they want for themselves

          Nothing changes

  9. Truthful Ulsterman

    What isn’t being reported that is happening now?
    This has the look of a smokescreen.
    Whatever this is ; it isn’t news.

    1. Daisy Chainsaw

      You keep saying that. Newspapers and online outlets, not to mention the general public disagree.

  10. Hector Ramirez

    The AGSI was asked on morning Ireland if the GRA have questions to answer on this… conveniently, she managed to swerve the question

  11. newsjustin

    Genuine question – what are the rules these days about serving members of the Gardaí having romantic/intimate relations with each other? Is it allowed in a “disciplined force”?

    1. kellMA

      I would imagine that they do not like to encourage intimate relations within units. Its fairly standard in most work environments. I work in an office and the handbook actually says that you should not knowingly hire staff who are related to each other/in relationships with each other into the same department/team and i know in the past where there have been unions that one of them has moved to a different department. It makes sense. Given just under 50% of marriages/relationships don’t work out it gets rid of any potential disharmony from ones personal life spilling into the work environment.

      1. Cian

        This. It makes having an office-affair a nightmare when your wife works there too!

        “I was working late last night”
        “no you weren’t! I was”

  12. Emily Dickinson

    I fail to see the value in litigating the social standards of our grandparents.

    We do things differently now. That’s mostly a good thing. Let’s move on and attend to the problems of this generation and the next.

    1. Vanessa the Holy Face of Frilly Keane

      I see every reason to litigate
      As you put it
      These girls could well have been classmates of mine

      I came of age in 1985
      We absolutely deserve the World knows what it was really like in a democratic Republic in Western Europe while U2 were breaking stadium records

      Imagine telling the families of the Hunger Strikers
      Or to shrug off the sadness of Ann Lovett’s story
      Or the Mother and Baby Home Survivors
      Or people who were adopted from these institutions looking for even the name of their birth mother
      Or those relatives waiting to know if a family member is in a former septic tank or alive and well in America

      That todays Irish fail to see the value in litigating the social standards of our grandparents.

      That’s the sort of talk that has left Joanne Hayes and her family denied complete restitution and satisfaction

      And I have absolutely no doubt my own Grandparents would insist we achieve some truth about our past

      Clearly you agree that it’s ok for the various religious and Tusla to seal records for another 75 years
      Whereas I think that’s sick, selfish and shameful

      ASAIC
      I’m standing up for the girls that were sent to Bressboro
      The girls that would get the Slatterys coach on a Friday outside the Cork City Library
      The girls that were forced into marriages or were thrown out
      The girls that had to leave their jobs or college
      The girls that were raped and weren’t listened to

      The old stickies in the Workers Party years ago used to use the expression cosy regard when being dismissive about the middle classes / old school management – them v us
      It so suits you now Ms Dickinson

      I must know you from somewhere

  13. darren

    I think the fascinating thing about these sort of stories, and many they are, is that we would all like to move on, of course …but very simply the lives of people who serve now in judiciary and politics, as well those in our families and so on …each have not moved on precisely because this was not socially dealt with but presumed to be old news with the advent of wider sources of news. The notion that Irish media is as a result developing a dose of compassion toward victims of any sort is not a bad thing is it? The idea that news is being dug up so that some more current heinous act is kept hidden from us is as likely today as any other. So whenever it does come out, isn’t that the time to address it, esp when the bodies responsible are still active forces in our time?

    1. Spaghetti Hoop

      I agree. It’s like a mirror regularly pops up to remind us of the scourge of Catholic Ireland and its grip on society.

      1. Brother Barnabas

        sure that’s all gone now – all they control now is education. and healthcare.

  14. Al Bin Man

    Ban Garda

    I feel sorry for the woman

    All she wanted to do was serve the country

    PostmanPat had an excellent point above about RatE too

  15. Truth in the News

    Lets dig deeper how many of the police top brass were members of that
    rather secretive Catholic Church organisation the “Knights of Columbanus”

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