Former garda who felt forced to give up baby son for adoption: ‘I want to meet the Garda Commissioner’

Former garda who felt forced to give up baby son for adoption: ‘I want to meet the Garda Commissioner’
Majella Moynihan

THE former garda from Cork who faced being sacked for becoming ‘pregnant out of wedlock’ in the 1980s has said she should have received a personal apology from the Garda Commissioner.

Majella Moynihan, from Kanturk, has received an outpouring of support after revealing how she was treated by garda management in the 1980s.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris and Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan both issued public statements apologising for the mistreatment but did not contact Ms Moynihan directly.

Ms Moynihan was internally investigated, interrogated and pressurised into giving her child up for adoption.

She was later charged with two counts under the 1971 Garda Síochána Regulations and threatened with being sacked. The charges related to premarital sex and giving birth outside of marriage.

After an RTÉ documentary on her story was broadcast, Ms Moynihan said she felt “so overwhelmed” and revealed how she had been suicidal as a result of the mistreatment.

She told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland: “I kept it secret for so many years because I had so much shame and now it’s no longer my story of shame, it’s their shame and I feel so vindicated. I’m so grateful to the people that heard me and believed my story and the Doc on One team, I can’t thank them enough.

“Back in 1984 when I was pregnant and the treatment that they inflicted on me, I knew it was wrong, and for many years I’ve done counselling, I’ve done a lot of work on myself and I always felt within me that I had to tell my story, not only for me but for other women.

“The treatment of me was horrific abuse and no woman should ever, ever have to go through it.”

Ms Moynihan gave birth to a baby boy called David in 1984 and gave him up for adoption. “I felt and I still feel that I was pressurised into it,” she said. “And unfortunately I signed that paper. To me it was a forced adoption because I was in no state of mind to sign it.”

In 1998, Ms Moynihan sought early retirement from the force, after 15 years’ service.

Years later, in 2017, she was contacted through a social worker and informed her son David wished to meet her. She said that she was happy with the apology from the Commissioner, “but I feel that the apology should have come to me first, a personal apology. I feel very hurt that Commissioner Harris still hasn’t contacted me and it’s been 24 hours.”

Asked if she’d like to meet Commissioner Harris in person, she said: “I think for healing for me and for my future and for what I have felt what the guards have done to me, where I feel yes, it’s of vital importance that I meet Commissioner Harris, that he meets me, he apologises to me and he also gives me a written apology. Yes, I would be happy, I would be content with that.”

Garda management said yesterday that arrangements are being made to have the meeting as soon as possible.

Ms Moynihan said she hadn’t heard directly from the Minister for Justice either.

“I haven’t heard from anybody and I strongly believe and I strongly feel that both of those people should have come to me first.”

Antoinette Cunningham of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) said it was “very wrong what happened to her.” She commended Ms Moynihan for telling her story and hoped that by doing so she derived some measure of comfort.

“It was hugely brave of her. As a mother and a garda I am deeply shocked by the story. The invasive questions that were asked about her private life.”

The AGSI wanted to show their support even though Ms Moynihan had not ever been a member of the association, added Ms Cunningham.

“Nobody deserves to be humiliated in the workplace, be they female or male,” she said.

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