Sunday 18 August 2019

'They were more or less forced to give up their babies' - former garda recounts treatment of pregnancies 'out of wedlock'

Photo: Stock picture
Photo: Stock picture
Majella Moynihan as a young garda

Markus Krug

A former garda has told of how several female gardai were mistreated for getting pregnant 'out of wedlock' while she was with the force in the 1980s.

Former Garda Anne Cleary, who knew Majella Moynihan during her time with the gardaí, said she knew of "several cases".

"I would have known Majella socially," Ms Cleary told RTE Radio One's Liveline.

"She was a lovely and bubbly girl, as well as a great worker. What happened to her was so wrong.

"She was not the only female member of the force who was subjected to such absolute tyranny in relation to her pregnancy out of wedlock.

"They were all treated absolutely despicably.

Majella Moynihan as a young garda
Majella Moynihan as a young garda

"They were more or less forced to give their babies up because there was no hope for them hanging on to their jobs if they didn’t," she said.

Ms Cleary said that she is aware of at least two more similar cases. One of the women gave her baby up for adoption because of the way she was treated.

The former garda also described the generally sexist and misogynistic atmosphere in the force during that time.

"One day I was at the typewriter and an inspector came in and grabbed my boob from behind. I swung around and ate the face off him, I said: ‘Excuse me I don’t care how many bars, tips or stripes you have, no one can do that to me'."

She described how women were forced to wear an impractical uniform of a pencil skirt and shoes with Cuban heels.

"We used to wear pencil skirts – ever try running in one of them? Was a different time," she said.

"It was a very impractical uniform back then.

"I do recall going out on patrol in Dublin on a night with sub-zero temperatures. I had to go to the men’s locker room and borrow a pair of pants from a colleague because it was so cold.

"When my sergeant saw me wearing them he said 'don’t let me see you wearing them again'," she added.

Online Editors

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News