Sunday 18 August 2019

Women’s Council commends Majella Moynihan for her ‘courage and bravery’ during ‘inexcusable’ treatment by gardaí

Majella Moynihan asked for an apology
Majella Moynihan asked for an apology
Majella Moynihan as a garda

Gabija Gataveckaite

The National Women’s Council of Ireland has commended former Garda Majella Moynihan for her ‘courage and bravery’ during ‘inexcusable’ treatment by An Garda Siochana.

Speaking at the 60th anniversary of women in An Garda Siochana, the chairperson of the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) thanked Ms Moynihan for her service.

“From all at the National Women’s Council of Ireland, we commend Majella Moynihan’s courage and bravery in speaking out,” Ellen O’Malley Dunlop said.

“The ordeal that she faced in the 1980s reflected all too well an Irish society that had unacceptable and cruel attitudes towards women, particularly in the area of sexuality.”

“This attitude was reflected in An Garda Siochana it was in many other organisations,” she said.

Former Garda Majella Moynihan was the recipient of a state apology last month due to the treatment she received from An Garda Siochana when she got pregnant outside of wedlock in the 1980s while serving as a garda.

Ms O’Malley Dunlop added that the apology from the state is welcomed by the council.

“The swift apologies from both Garda Commissioner Drew Harris and Charlie Flanagan and their subsequent meetings with Ms Moynihan are very welcome and demonstrate a real change in our society and in our state.”

“The pain felt in Moynihan’s story is the pain felt in generations of Irish women who were shamed and silenced,” she said.

“She adds her name to the long list of women wronged in this country,” she added.

Minister Charlie Flanagan also echoed his and Commissioner Drew Harris’ apologies to the former Garda at the event.

“Both the Commissioner and I apologised to Majella for the appalling treatment she received,” he said.

“It is worth remarking that Majella emphasised the comradeship and support she experienced from many of her colleagues and, in particular, from other female members,” he said.

‘I’d love to put on the uniform again’

The event celebrated 60 years since women were first allow to join An Garda Siochana.

Former Gardai Sarah McGuinness and Angela Leavy were among the very first women to join the force in the class of ‘59.

Speaking to Independent.ie, Longford native Ms McGuinness remembered joining the force.

“I passed out in December 1959 and we were on site of Pearse Street for a year and in 1961, six of us were transferred to Store Street and there I worked for 23 years.

“I loved my time in the guards. I loved street patrol, I loved being out with the public and on the beat. I loved mixing with the community and mixing with the people.

“Even today, a sunny day in Dublin- I’d love to put on the uniform and on the beat again,” she smiled.

Angela Leavy was Ms McGuinness’ colleague, who is originally from Naas, county Kildare, but served in Pearse Street station also.

“I was in the guards for only five years and I enjoyed my time there, I was sorry I had to leave due to the marriage bar.

“It was great experience to a certain extent and you learned a lot about people and fortunate people and all kinds of people and bad times and good times,” she explained.

“There was six of us in Pearse Street [station] and then little by little, they sent two here and two there and new girls came in afterwards,” she added.

“There was 12 of us women who trained together and got together and we didn’t know each other before and became very good friends,” she said.

Limerick Garda Sarah Justice said that the force had seen a lot of changes in the 13 years she has served.

“I’ve loved being a guard, it’s served me very well,” she said.

“The role hasn’t change but the paperwork side, the administration side, has. I presume that’s to do with the things that have come in the last couple of years like with the policing authority,” she added.

“You’re constantly call to call to call, sometimes it’s very difficult to give everything as much attention as you like but you do the best you can with your time,” Garda Justice said. 

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