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Monday 22 July 2019

Garda Commissioner says Moynihan case 'couldn't happen now'

Majella Moynihan asked for an apology
Majella Moynihan asked for an apology
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

COMMISSIONER Drew Harris said the case former Garda Majella Moynihan is a "shocking tale from the past" that "couldn't happen now".

Mr Harris's remarks came at the Oireachtas justice committee where he also declined to be drawn on whether or not he supports Ms Moynihan having her full pension restored.

The Commissioner also told TDs and Senators that there are "undoubtedly" a "small number" of cases that are similar to Ms Moynihan's.

Mr Harris previously apologised to Ms Moynihan who faced dismissal in the 1980s after having a child while unmarried.

Ms Moynihan was charged with breaching Garda rules after having premarital sex with another officer and having a child when she was 22.

She kept her job following the intervention of the archbishop of Dublin, who believed sacking her would cause more Gardaí to travel to England for abortions in similar circumstances.

Majella Moynihan as a garda
Majella Moynihan as a garda

Ms Moynihan spoke publicly for the first time about her ordeal in recent weeks and how she felt she had to give her baby up for adoption.

Fianna Fáil TD Jim O'Callaghan said Ms Moynihan's case had concerned and upset a lot of people and he praised Mr Harris for meeting her.

He asked if Mr Harris is satisfied that the force now a tolerant and receptive place employees and in particular for women who are joining the Garda Síochána?

Mr Harris said he believes it is.

He also said Ms Moynihan's case was "a shocking story, a shocking tale from the past.

"It couldn’t happen now but we want to make sure it’s very clear for individuals looking in to the organisation that it is an open and inclusive environment."

Senator Lorraine Clifford Lee also raised the case saying Ms Moynihan faced "horrible abuse" and was interrogated.

"She faced dismissal for having a baby outside of marriage, she was forced to give that baby up and she regrets that deeply," Ms Clifford Lee added.

She said Ms Moynihan retied from the Gardaí on ill-health grounds and gets a reduced pension.

She asked Mr Harris if he supports a full pension for Ms Moynihan as well as an ex-gratia payment for "the damage that was done by An Garda Síochána".

Mr Harris said: "These are matters now which are the subject of negotiation with her solicitor and I wish to reserve the position."

Earlier, he said that the story Ms Moynihan told him "made me really rethink where we are in terms of the manner in which we treat gender and treat women in the workplace."

He said the 60th anniversary of the first female Gardaí is approaching and it's a "good time to rethink and refresh what we’re doing in terms of the diversity of the organisation, not only to just along gender but also other areas of under-representation."

He said steps have already been taken including the introduction of a new uniform code to allow the wearing of hijabs and turbans and the Gardaí are involved in this month's LGBT Pride celebrations.

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