Former garda investigated over premarital sex feels ‘vindicated’

Majella Moynihan who had child with colleague has been told case files missing, says friend

Majella Moynihan spoke to RTÉ about being charged under the Garda Síochána regulations over  having premarital sex with another garda and a second count of having “give birth to a child outside wedlock” in May 1984. Photograph:  Supplied by RTÉ

Majella Moynihan spoke to RTÉ about being charged under the Garda Síochána regulations over having premarital sex with another garda and a second count of having “give birth to a child outside wedlock” in May 1984. Photograph: Supplied by RTÉ

 

A former garda who was threatened with dismissal from the force in the 1980s for having a baby with a colleague while unmarried says she feels “vindicated” in the wake of the public response to her ordeal.

Majella Moynihan was 22 when she was charged under Garda Síochána regulations of having premarital sex with another garda and a second count of having given “birth to a child outside wedlock”.

She gave birth to the baby, David, in Galway Regional Hospital in May 1984, and gave him up for adoption. Ms Moynihan and her partner Martin, whom she began dating in 1994, also have a 21-year-old son named Stephen.

Ms Moynihan told RTÉ she was now looking forward to getting on with her life “with happiness, with my two sons”.

Majella Moynihan in 1998. Photograph supplied by RTÉ
Majella Moynihan in 1998. Photograph supplied by RTÉ

Born in Kanturk, Co Cork in 1962, Ms Moynihan joined An Garda Síochána in 1983.

Training in Templemore, Co Tipperary, she met another Garda recruit, who she had had a previous relationship with. The pair started seeing each other again and Ms Moynihan became pregnant.

Transcripts from an internal Garda hearing from the time reveal an aggressive line of questioning by senior officers, scrutinising the young woman’s sexual history and her use of contraceptives.

Faced with dismissal for bringing discredit to the force, Ms Moynihan only kept her job at the intervention of the archbishop of Dublin, who feared firing her would lead to more gardaí travelling to England for abortions if they became pregnant outside of marriage.

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.

“One of the hardest things I ever did in my life was meeting my son, I found it very, very difficult because I felt that he was angry with me and I had my own pain,” she said.

Both Garda Commissioner Drew Harris and Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan issued statements of apology after Ms Moynihan spoke publicly for the first time in a RTÉ Radio One documentary broadcast on Saturday.

A friend of Ms Moynihan, Susan Lohan of the Adoption Rights Alliance (ARA), said the former garda had been told her personal files had gone missing.

Records running to between 200 and 300 pages were released to her with “around 50 per cent” of the material redacted, according to Ms Lohan.

“It is utterly meaningless to send something like that. She has no idea what was written about her, whether bare-faced lies were told.”

Ms Moynihan spoke with solicitors, arranged by the ARA, between 2015 and 2016 and was advised that she had a legal right to see more complete documents under data protection legislation.

The former garda then reapplied for the same files to be disclosed in their entirety, citing her rights, and was told: “We’re terribly sorry. We can’t find your files any more, they are lost,” Ms Lohan said.

On the statements of apology issued by Mr Harris and Mr Flanagan, Ms Lohan said Ms Moynihan did not regard them as proper apologies.

“They are statements of apology, but they have no idea what they are apologising for, unless they have been fortunate enough to discover Majella’s missing files,” she said.

“Even if they discovered them, I don’t believe they could have digested them that quickly. I think they are both in for a very nasty shock when they see the full extent of what happened.”

Asked about whether the files were missing, a spokesman for Garda headquarters said: “In general, records such as these, particularly those dating back 20 to 30 years ago, are held by administrative offices that are not open at weekends.”