Tag Archives: Majella Moynihan

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

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”


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

 Majella Moynihan says she was forced to give up her child for adoption after she became pregnant with a Garda recruit and gave birth on May 31, 1985

Last night.

“The treatment of Majella Moynihan was clearly wrong on every level.”

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan

“On behalf of An Garda Síochána, I fully apologise to former Garda Majella Moynihan for the manner in which she was treated and the subsequent lifelong impact this had on her.”

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris

This morning.

“I was happy with the apology, but I feel that the apology should have come to me first, a personal apology. I’ve heard from nobody.I strongly believe and I strongly feel that both of those people should have come to me first.”

Majella Moynihan

Moynihan ‘overwhelmed’ by response to documentary (RTÉ)

Guard who became pregnant in 1980s speaks out about ‘forced adoption’ (breakingnews)

Meanwhile…

UPDATE:

This morning.

Majella gave an extensive interview to Seán O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio One’s Today with Seán O’Rourke (top).

During the near 45-minute discussion, in which Majella said she spent time in St John of God Hopsital and had attempted suicide five times over what happened to her, Mr O’Rourke asked about her case being raised (anonymously) in the Dáil with the then Minister for Justice Michael Noonan in 1985.

On June 6, 1985, the late Fine Gael TD David Moloney and Labour TD Proinsias De Rossa raised the matter with Mr Noonan.

Mr Noonan told the Dáil:

“I assume that the Deputies are referring to a case which was the subject of press reports last February.

“Under the Garda Síochána (Discipline) Regulations, 1971, the enforcement of discipline within the force is a matter for the Garda authorities and, except in cases involving dismissal which in certain circumstances require my consent, I have no function in the matter. Accordingly, it would not be appropriate for me to comment either on the specific case referred to or on the other issue raised.”

This morning, Majella and Mr O’Rourke had the following exchange about this.

Sean O’Rourke: “He [Noonan] basically said, ‘look this is internal Garda business’.”

Majella Moynihan: “That’s correct and that’s what he said to me personally as well.”

O’Rourke: “You met him afterwards?”

Moynihan:I actually rang him, spoke to him and he said ‘this is an internal Garda [matter]…'”

O’Rourke: “When did you talk to him?”

Moynihan: “It was 10 years ago.”

UPDATE:

Listen back to the interview in full here