Tuesday 20 August 2019

'Deeply sexist, wrong': Taoiseach attacks the treatment of ex-garda

Penalised: Former garda Majella Moynihan. Picture: Tony Kinlan
Penalised: Former garda Majella Moynihan. Picture: Tony Kinlan

Kevin Doyle and Laura Lynott

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has described the treatment of former garda Majella Moynihan by senior figures in the force as "wrong on every level".

He said there could well be other women who were put in similar positions to Ms Moynihan.

She became pregnant outside of marriage after joining An Garda Síochána in the 1980s and felt shamed into giving up her baby son for adoption. Ms Moynihan, from Kanturk, Co Cork, was subjected to an investigation and threatened with dismissal.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris and Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan have apologised to her since she went public as part of an RTÉ documentary at the weekend.

In the Dáil, Mr Varadkar said: "She was made to feel shame. The way she was penalised was deeply sexist."

Ms Moynihan left the force in 1998, more than a decade after she was charged with premarital sex and giving birth outside of marriage.

Sinn Féin's Mary Lou McDonald said the State had an obligation to ensure Ms Moynihan is awarded a full pension. She called on the Justice Minister to establish if other women were treated in a similar way.

Mr Flanagan said he intended to apologise to Ms Moynihan in person when he meets her in the coming days.

"I sincerely regret the appalling ordeal that Ms Moynihan faced as a young Garda member," he said. "Various issues have been raised in relation to this case including the question of Ms Moynihan's pension.

"I expect this issue to be examined and discussed when Ms Moynihan meets the Commissioner."

On RTÉ Radio One's 'Liveline' yesterday, 'Claire' - a garda who had worked alongside Ms Moynihan - said there were still problems ongoing in the 1990s.

"I'm aware of a lot of [gardaí] girls that went to the UK to have abortions," she said.

Former garda Anne Cleary, who also knew Ms Moynihan, told the Irish Independent that when she was a young officer in the '80s, Garda managers had personally intervened when male and female "friends" who were in the force had been sharing a house.

She said the "assumption was that something untoward was going on".

Irish Independent

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