“Are There More Majellas Out There?”


Majella Moynihan; Fine Gael TD Michael Noonan, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar during Leaders’ Questions yesterday


During Leaders’ Questions.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald raised the case of former Garda Majella Moynihan with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

Majella was in early 20s in the mid-1980s when she became pregnant with a Garda recruit.

At the age of 22, she was charged, under Garda regulations, with having premarital sex with another garda and with having given birth to a baby outside of marriage.

She felt forced to give up her son for adoption and later attempted to take her life five times.

On Today with Seán O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio One on Monday, Majella also said she suffered sexual harassment within her workplace, saying: “I feel that they portrayed me as an easy woman so they could say and do whatever they liked to me.”

In the Dáil yesterday, Ms McDonald specifically asked Mr Varadkar if he had spoken to Limerick Fine Gael TD and former Minister for Justice, from 1982 to 1986, Michael Noonan about Majella.

It followed Majella telling Seán O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio One on Monday morning that she raised her story with Mr Noonan ten years ago and that Mr Noonan told her it was an internal Garda matter.

From Ms McDonald and Mr Varadkar’s exchange:

Mary Lou McDonald: “Are there more Majellas out there? What will the Taoiseach do establish the full facts?

“Majella said yesterday that she spoke with Deputy Michael Noonan who was Minister for Justice in 1983, but she spoke to him ten years ago and at that point he said to her that this was an internal Garda matter.

“The mind boggles as to how this could ever have been an internal Garda matter.

“I understand that Deputy Michael Noonan has not responded to this matter.

“Should he now make a statement and has the Taoiseach spoken with him on the issue?”

Leo Varadkar: “I thank the Deputy. In response to her questions, I have not spoken to Deputy Michael Noonan about it.

“I do not know if there are more Majellas out there: there may well be.

“I would have no difficulty apologising to those women on behalf of the State but I would like to know the facts and be able to answer the questions raised by the Deputy today before doing that.”

“… I very much welcome the fact that [Garda] Commissioner [Drew] Harris has offered an apology and that that apology has been repeated and echoed on behalf of the Government by the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Charles Flanagan.

“Mr Harris will meet her in person and the Minister, Deputy Flanagan, has asked that he be involved in that meeting too. I think that is what should happen next. That meeting should occur between Ms Moynihan and the Garda Commissioner and the Minister for Justice and Equality and, perhaps, we can take things from there.

“As she is the one at the centre of this they should be allowed to hear from her rather than us debating here what the next step should be. The next step should be for her and the Commissioner to meet, and the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Flanagan, would like to be able to attend that meeting with her consent.”

Ms McDonald went on to say she believed Mr Noonan should make a statement on the matter.

Mr Varadkar replied:

Many people have served as Minister for Justice since 1983. I am not sure how many but it could be a dozen people. I do not think this is about trying to have a go at a politician or former Minister for Justice.

“This is about Majella Moynihan and hearing her story. It is about understanding the wrongs that were done in our past, offering an apology to her from the Garda Commissioner, which has happened, and an apology from the Minister for Justice and Equality, and then allowing them to meet with her to talk about what the next steps forward should be.

“This should not be an occasion for political interaction such as that.”

Previously: “I’ve Heard From Nobody”

“I Remember Just Falling To The Ground”

15 thoughts on ““Are There More Majellas Out There?”

  1. Joan

    There should be a public inquiry into the death of Dara Quigley, and the role of the gardai in leaking the video.

  2. Al Bin Man

    Is Majella a popular name for bean ghardai?

    I’d expect more Bridgets, Mary’s or Siobhan’s


  3. TheQ47

    Mr Varadkar replied:

    “Many people have served as Minister for Justice since 1983. I am not sure how many but it could be a dozen people.

    Looking at the Ministers for Justice since 1983 (15 from Noonan to Flanagan), they’re not exactly a shining bunch. 8 of them have been implicated or alleged to be implicated in some form of scandal or other, including the Bridget McCole/HepC Scandal, various planning and related scandals, tax fraud, expenses scandals, the 2008 bank guarantee, Maurice McCabe, etc.

    Michael Noonan, FG 1982 – 1986
    Alan Dukes, FG, 1986 – 1987
    Gerry Collins, FF 1987 – 1989
    Ray Burke, FF 1989 – 1992
    Pádraig Flynn, FF 1992 – 1993
    Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, FF 1993 – 1994
    Nora Owen, FG 1994 – 1997
    John O’Donoghue, FF 1997 – 2002
    Michael McDowell, PD 2002 – 2007
    Brian Lenihan Jnr, FF 2007 – 2008
    Dermot Ahern, FF 2008 – 2011
    Brendan Smith, FF 2011 – 2011
    Alan Shatter, FG 2011 – 2014
    Frances Fitzgerald, FG 2014 – 2017
    Charles Flanagan, FG 2017 – date

  4. Joe Small

    There are probably thousands of Majellas hounded from public and private sector jobs because of pregnancies outside marriage. What do we do? Investigate them all? Brush them under the carpet? How do we balance dealing with these injustices with trying not to obsess on our collective past and ensuring nothing of the sort happens again?

  5. Blonto

    “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
    And if we do not find out all the details and talk about it, how can we remember it.
    Ignoring an issue will serve no good.

  6. postmanpat

    It great how the government has to concern itself with every boo-hoo documentary RTE wheels out. You’d think there was no other problems they should be keeping their eyes on. Guard gets pregnant , gets bullied by bullies in a bullying culture job and give up her own flesh and blood , continues to get bullied by bullies in a bullying culture job which she should have quit but didn’t. Guards are a depressed and miserable lot. Little Hitlers the lot of them. Is the Dail going to screech to a halt every time a story comes out about someone being a big old meany to a fellow worker in a public job back in the day.?

  7. eoin

    ” I do not think this is about trying to have a go at a politician or former Minister for Justice.”

    Hang on there a second Leo. Michael Noonan is the current Father of the House (the longest serving TD) and is on your backbenches in the Dail. He hasn’t retired from politics.

    As we found out from the newspaper articles in 1985, it was the justice minister of the day who sanctioned punishments (dismissals were specifically mentioned) for bringing the Gardai into discredit. How many ban-ghardai were dismissed because their morals did meet Michael Noonan’s standards?

    Since Michael is still working for us in the Dail and being paid €90,000 +++ (especially pensions), maybe he can break his silence and tell us.

  8. Truth in the News

    Baldy made a lot of political capital when he became Minister for Justice
    in respect of Ray McSharry getting the use of a recorder from the Guards
    to record a conversation with the late Martin O’Donohue, and its later
    transcription, since Baldy was so inquisitive surely he knows a lot more
    about goings on in the Guards relayed by the late laurence Wren, pity he’s
    not around to face the music

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