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”