Wednesday 21 August 2019

Harris admits cases similar to Majella Moynihan's exist

Anti-corruption move: Garda Commissioner Drew Harris. Picture: Gerry Mooney
Anti-corruption move: Garda Commissioner Drew Harris. Picture: Gerry Mooney
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Commissioner Drew Harris has admitted that there are "undoubtedly" a "small number" of cases that are similar to former garda Majella Moynihan's.

Mr Harris told TDs and senators that what happened to Ms Moynihan in the 1980s is a "shocking tale from the past" that "couldn't happen now".

His 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.

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.

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 is now a tolerant and receptive place for employees and in particular for women who are joining An 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," he added.

Meanwhile, gardaí face "in-career vetting" on finances and "inappropriate relationships" under anti-corruption proposals put forward by Mr Harris.

Mr Harris wants a new anti-corruption unit up and running before the end of the year and outlined his plans at a meeting of the Policing Authority. He said one area that is being actively considered is vetting of Garda members and staff where they have access to sensitive information.

Mr Harris said this would be to "make sure that they're not exposed to blackmail or coercion by activities in their private life either financial or relationship".

Policing Authority chairperson Josephine Feehily asked Mr Harris about proposals for "intrusive supervision". An implementation plan for Mr Harris's anti-corruption proposals is being drawn up and there is to be consultation with Garda representative associations and civil service unions.

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News