Apology for Cork garda pressured into adoption decision

Apology for Cork garda pressured into adoption decision
Majella Moynihan. Pic via RTE.

THE Justice Minister and the Garda Commissioner have both apologised to a former garda from Cork who faced dismissal in the 1980s after having a child while unmarried.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said what happened to Majella Moynihan was “clearly wrong” on every level.

He added: “As a young garda, Ms Moynihan faced an appalling ordeal at a time in Ireland that was sadly too often characterised by stigma and intolerance.”

On Saturday, Ms Moynihan spoke publicly for the first time about her ordeal in an RTÉ Radio One documentary.

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

An aggressive line of questioning by senior officers at the time probed into her sexual history and use of contraceptives.

Ms Moynihan 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 was born in Kanturk in 1962 and joined An Garda Síochána in 1983.

While training in Templemore, she met another Garda recruit, who she had had a previous relationship with. They began a relationship again and Ms Moynihan became pregnant.

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... From the time that I told the authorities in the Garda Síochána that I was pregnant, that’s the one thing that was kept being mentioned: adoption, adoption, adoption,” Ms Moynihan told RTÉ’s Documentary On One.

“And unfortunately I signed that paper. To me it was a forced adoption because I was in no state of mind to sign it,” she said.

The male garda, who was the father of the child, was fined £90 over his conduct.

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.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris offered an apology, saying: “On behalf of An Garda Síochána, I fully apologise to former garda Majella Moynihan for the manner in which she was treated and the subsequent lifelong impact this had on her.”

On Sunday, Minister Flanagan said: “I echo that apology in my capacity as Minister for Justice and Equality.”

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