This is the full transcript of the RTÉ radio Doc on One: The Case of Majella Moynihan, which details how the Garda hierarchy treated a young, unmarried recruit who became pregnant by another garda recruit in the 1980s.
Archive: It's six minutes past nine, you're listening to Morning Ireland and Peter Driscoll has his review of the morning papers.
There’s not a lot to choose between the front pages this morning.
There's Kerry Babies shock disclosure and the Irish Times manages to squeeze another baby onto page one, that of an unmarried Bangharda, who now faces disciplinary action – a story chased up by the Independent as well.
On the 6th February 1985, a story made the lead in both The Irish Times and The Irish Independent. An unnamed Garda – a bangharda, as she would have been called then – was being threatened with dismissal from the Force, for having had premarital sex with another probationary garda and for having given birth to a baby outside wedlock.
I can still remember that night that that statement was taken because I was shaking, absolutely terrified. “How did I get pregnant?” “Where did I get pregnant?” “Was he the first man I ever had sex with?”
The Garda at the centre of the case was Majella Moynihan and, in February 1985, she was 22 years old.
“I wrote to Garda Headquarters nine or 10 years ago in relation to the information that they held on me and I asked them for a copy of my file, because I knew in my heart and my soul the injustices that were preffered against me and I knew that some day I would tell that story.”
Only now, 34 years later, Majella is ready to tell her story publicly for the first time.
Majella Moynihan was born in Kanturk, Co Cork, in 1962. The fifth of five girls, to Hugh and Margaret Moynihan.
“My Mam was killed in a road accident in 1964 and I was a year and a half old.
“My Dad I believe really couldn’t cope at that time, and then put us into a home so he signed us over to the State until we were sixteen.”
Majella and her four sisters were sent to live in St Joseph’s Industrial School for Girls, in Mallow, Co Cork.
“St Joseph’s was for my first eleven years, it was what I knew. I made a lot of friends in school. I was very popular in school. And then the nun that was in charge of me from the age of one-and-a-half to eleven, she then left and my world fell apart at that stage. From the age of 11 to 17 my life was horrific.”
In 1980, Majella left St Joseph’s and went to Dublin, to live with her father and stepmother.
“I did my Leaving Cert in 1980 and at that stage we didn’t know anything about the outside world, if that’s what you’d like to call it, the outside world. So my father at that stage was living in Dublin with my stepmother, who he married in 1966. And I walked into a house full of strangers. I had come up on holidays, maybe for Christmas and the summer, but I never knew my father.”
After two years, Majella decided the time had come to focus on her career.
"Before I left the institution first of all we did a career guidance in school and I was very very interested in becoming a member of An Garda Síochána. It was in 1982, I applied for the Guards and I was so excited and I remember going to Mountjoy Garda Station and meeting a sergeant down there and having an interview and I came out and I was 'I'm going to be a guard! I'm going to be a guard!'"
In April 1983, Majella was called to the Garda Training College, in Templemore, Co Tipperary.
“It was the most exciting day of my life. I absolutely…. I was elated going down in the train, I’ll never forget it.”
“Arriving in at that gate, I felt 6 foot 7”. Even now as I speak, I can feel the joy in my heart, even as I speak of it. And we went in and there was about sixty others, recruits at the time. And it was great to see other women there.
“Then the next day we were given uniforms. Wow, that was something else. Putting on that uniform, putting my shoulders back and saying ‘Yes, I’ve done it!, it’s wonderful’. And I think for the whole time in Templemore I had a smile on my face because I had reached my potential as I had thought. The only job that I ever wanted was the gardaí, and I had fulfilled that big wish of mine in April of 1983. Very happy girl.
“Before I went to Templemore, I had met this guy in the Garda Club, so that tells you the love that I had for the guards, I was even going to the Garda Club before I went down – and I met this guy and we started going out and then we started of course sleeping together, like you do.
“He went down to Templemore in 1982, and then I ended up down in Templemore myself in April of ‘83 and we started up the relationship again. At weekends, I’d come to Dublin and he’d go to his home.
“And then in August I met him, I know he came to my father’s house, and that was the weekend that I conceived. And you might say how did you know. I knew straight away that I had conceived. And as I was still in Templemore at that stage and I had to go back to Templemore and I had an inkling that I was pregnant, I had an extremely strong inkling that I was pregnant.”
Majella’s passing out ceremony was a day of mixed emotions. She knew she had to say something to the trainee Garda she was seeing.
“My passing out parade on the 29th of September, I said to [NAME REDACTED]that day, I haven’t got my period, I could be pregnant. It was fobbed off, it was nothing, it was nothing. “
On the 30th of September, 1983, Majella arrived in Store Street in Dublin to begin her career in An Garda Síochána
“And I arrived in Store Street with three other banghardas and I was full of excitement. ‘Wow, I’m going to be doing what I wanna do!’.
"And yet there was that niggling feeling still that I was pregnant and I just knew. I just knew myself I was pregnant. So, I went to the Well Women's Clinic in Cathal Brugha Street and the lady said to me 'you are pregnant' and my world just fell apart and I knew at that particular stage, that I could tell nobody. Well I definitely couldn't tell my father. It wasn't shame, it was disappointment, for me, because I had seen myself doing so good in Templemore, coming out, fulfilling the dream that I always had and then this happened."
A short time later, Majella informed the father of her child that she was pregnant.
“He went to see my father to ask my hand in marriage. I was absolutely shocked, and I was angry with him because he went over my head and I said to him ‘I have no intentions of marrying you. None whatsoever’.
“I would have preferred if he supported me through it but not through marriage under any circumstances, no.
“And then in January, I remember ringing him and he saying to me the words and I’ll still hear them ‘Whatever you do with your life is your business and whatever I do with my life is my business’.
“And that meant that he had closed the book on me and on his unborn child. How did I feel? Gutted.”
Though unmarried mother’s allowance had been introduced in 1973, there was still a stigma to having a child outside wedlock in early 1980s Ireland. Mother and Baby Homes were still in operation, and abortion was back in the spotlight in 1983 when the 8th amendment to the constitution was approved in Referendum, giving equal right to the life of the unborn child and the pregnant woman.
Majella was advised by the Well Woman Clinic to seek support from Cura, a crisis pregnancy agency, run by the Catholic Church.
"I had gone to Mena Robinson who was in Cura and I must say I found her really, really nice, really, really kind, very understanding, listened to what I had to say, listened to my fears, listened to everything. And I told her that I was a guard and that I was afraid to approach authorities because I was afraid of what would happen me, and that I had loved the job so much and that I did not want to lose my job."
In January 1984, Mena Robinson arranged for Majella to meet with a senior female garda at the Cura Offices in Marlborough Street, Dublin.
“And she was the first member of An Garda Síochána that I had told that I was pregnant.
“We were there for maybe about an hour and she just kept saying ‘And what are you going to do with the child?’. So she then said to me ‘You have to go and tell your district officer’. And I said ‘ok, I will, I will, I will’.”
Whilst Majella suspected her pregnancy would create difficulties for her within An Garda Síochána, she was at that point unaware that news of her pregnancy had spread through Garda ranks. In fact, it had gone as far as the Garda commissioner’s office and the most serious disciplinary charges were being planned against her.
Anything deemed by Garda authorities to bring discredit on the force would be subject to action under the Garda Discipline Regulations of 1971.
Four months pregnant, Majella met with her district officer.
“I sat in his office, I told him that I was pregnant and the first question he asked me was ‘Who is the father of your child?’. And he said ‘Is he a guard?’ and I said ‘he is’ and straight away, he got out a pen and he wrote down his name. And I remember asking ‘Why is it that important who he is and whether he’s a guard or not?’ I didn’t know what that meant at that time.”
In 2010, Majella received the file from An Garda Síochána, that contained all the documents relating to her case. One of the earlier correspondences is a letter from her district officer to a chief superintendent….
“On the 16th January 1984, Recruit Ban Garda Moynihan informed me that she was pregnant. As she was in her 17th week, I placed her on indoor duties. She is honest, dependable, and willing. She has been active in her duties and not been found wanting in assertiveness and courage on the street. Though pressed hard by me in my interview with her on her behaviour in the training centre, she did not resort to tears.
“I am particularly impressed by her devotion to duty while pregnant. She did not seek special duties and went out on duty on occasions while feeling unwell. She is now employed in the collator’s office and has impressed the sergeant there with her ability and enthusiasm for work.
“I consider, at this point that she will make an efficient member of the force.”
Many of the documents in Majella's file are heavily redacted. A letter dated the 22nd February 1984 marked confidential, from the Office of the Commissioner B Branch Personnel Headquarters, to an Assistant Commissioner contains one non-redacted line:
“Please report further when baby is born to above-named.”
Now seven months pregnant, in March 1984, Majella began her maternity leave. In order to conceal her situation, she was encouraged by her social workers to spend the final weeks of her pregnancy outside Dublin.
“Cura in Dublin arranged for me to go to a family in Galway and in April ‘84, I took the bus to Galway.
“The pressure came from every angle to adopt – it came from the gardaí, it came from Cura and it also came from the social worker.
“She kept saying ‘You know you can’t give your child what you’d like to give him. You’re 21 years of age, it’d be better if we took him and he went to a good family’. I still didn’t know what I was going to do.
“On the 31st of May, at two minutes past five, I gave birth to a beautiful boy.
“I left the hospital on the 1st of June and I left my son behind.
“I walked out of that hospital in a trance, I didn’t know who I was, what I was. I remember getting into the back of the car and going back to the family house and all I wanted was my child.”
“The next day I went into the hospital and he was in the nursery and I asked the nurse could I hold him and she said no. I remember staring into the nursery, just wanting to grab him and run. I didn’t know where I was going to run. That pain is still like it was yesterday. It was the worst day of my life.”
Majella’s son, whom she had named David, was initially sent to a foster home.
“I went back to Dublin then, and I travelled down every week to see him in foster care.”
Six weeks after her son was born, and still on maternity leave, Majella was requested to attend a meeting with a Garda Inspector. In his statement of evidence, he says that he first met with Majella on the 9th July 1984.
"Bangharda Moynihan told me that she had given birth to a baby boy on the 31st May, 1984, and that she was arranging to have the baby adopted. I asked her if she still had a relationship with the father of the child.
“During my conversation with this Bangharda, I found her to be frank, but distressed and embarrassed about what had occurred.”
The following day, the same Garda inspector wrote a letter marked confidential, to a chief superintendent detailing his meeting with Majella.
“It is the bangharda’s intention to have the baby adopted, but she has not yet signed the necessary consent forms. The recruit bangharda has not resumed duties to date, but on 9th July, 1984, I spoke to her and she informed me that her relationship was ended and there was no prospect of reconciliation. It is not her intention to seek financial support.”
The next week, Majella visited David, who was now eight weeks old, for the last time. His case had now been transferred from Cura to an adoption society in the west of Ireland, where another social worker took over the case.
“At this stage she had informed me that they had a family that was going to take David. Now, in the state of mind that I was in, I was in no way capable of making a decision about the long-term of my child’s welfare. I was absolutely distraught.”
David was placed with his adoptive parents on the 30th July 1984. Majella’s maternity leave ended and she returned to work in Store Street Garda Station. Tom McGowan is a barrister and former guard who was stationed with Majella.
“I arrived as a young recruit into Store Street early August 1984. She was detailed to bring me out on the beat and show me around the place, and I have to say to watch her in action as a police officer was incredible. She had an incredible interaction with people and it was just great to be around and learn from her, to be honest.”
Tom and the other guards in Store Street began to notice that Majella was being subjected to regular questioning by senior members of the force.
“It was very obvious that there was something going on at a higher level, because when we’d cross units, and we’d parade at 6 o’clock and then more frequently than not, an inspector would come in, and call Majella out and then Majella would probably be there for an hour, an hour-and-a-half and whatever went on would obviously be upsetting Majella and Majella would come back out on the beat. So, you know, it was a case of deliberately targeting her, I believe anyway, and it was fairly obvious it got worse and worse and worse, and as it got worse and worse and worse, Majella’s personality definitely changed and that happened over a period of time and it wasn’t pleasant to watch.”
“And every time I spoke to an officer in relation to my son being born, all that was ever said was ‘Is he going to be adopted? Is he going to be adopted? Where would you have the means to keep your child? Sure your father doesn’t know. Where would you keep him?’.”
Although Majella’s son David had already been placed with his adoptive parents, Majella still had until the end of 1984 to make up her mind before finalising the adoption. From September 1984 the internal Garda investigation against Majella for breach of discipline intensified.
“I am satisfied that she is doing her work satisfactorily and, I have no complaints about her. Having spoken to the young lady and in view of the circumstances of this incident I consider her suitable for retention in the force. Her child has been adopted and she is now dedicated to her job. I would not recommend disciplinary action.”
Two weeks later, Majella was issued with a formal notice of breach of discipline, by the chief superintendent.
“That evening I was requested to go upstairs to a room. I didn’t know what it was for, again I had tremendous fear. I was living outside of my body at that stage because I just, I was destroyed within, I was absolutely the most vulnerable state I was ever in in my whole life and that was the night that charges were proffered against me.”
The internal Garda disciplinary charges were as follows:
CHARGE 1 Conduct prejudicial to discipline or likely to bring discredit on the force. That is to say that between the 20th of May 1983 and the 30th of September 1983, you being an unmarried female member of An Garda Síochána did associate on terms of intimacy and undue familiarity with one Recruit Garda, an unmarried member of An Garda Síochána and during such period of association, you had sexual intercourse with said Recruit, as a result of which you became pregnant and gave birth to a male child at Galway Regional Hospital, Galway, on or about the 31st of May, 1984.
CHARGE 2 You being a female member of An Garda Síochána, did on or about the 31st of May 1984 give birth to a child outside wedlock at Galway Regional Hospital, Galway, County Galway.
“And after those charges were proffered against me, I was cautioned that I was not obliged to say anything unless I wished to do so and anything I said would be taken down in writing and may be given as evidence.
“I remember thinking ‘What are they doing?’, ‘Why am I being charged like a criminal?’, I did nothing wrong. And the questions that I were asked, no person should ever be asked those questions. All about my past history, my sexual past. All about my life, it had nothing to do with the fact that I was pregnant, that I had given birth. At that stage I just felt that I wanted to die. I didn’t want to live anymore.
“I had to go back downstairs put on my uniform and go back out on the beat as if nothing happened.”
Six weeks after being charged by the gardaí, and five months since her son had been placed with his adoptive parents, Majella signed the final legal consent forms for David’s adoption.
“December ‘84 David was adopted. I felt and I still feel that I was pressurised into it and I didn’t have a leg to stand on because every single person that spoke to me 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: was adoption, adoption, adoption.
“And it is something to this day, is a very, very difficult thing for me to accept because I know that as a 21-year-old, and yes I was extremely raw, extremely vulnerable, I would have said yes to anything at that stage. And unfortunately I signed that paper. To me it was a forced adoption because I was in no state of mind to sign it.”
January 1985 and Majella was still waiting to hear the outcome of the charges against her.
“I continued to do my work, continued to come into work on a daily basis, arrests and everything else – went back to the old unit that I was on, felt a terrible amount of hush-hush when I’d come in to the room. I know I was sensitive, maybe sometimes I was over-sensitive, but I knew it was going on and it was a very lonely place.
“Looking back at me now as that 21-year-old, 22-year-old, I was a lost soul. I was portraying to the civilian out on the streets that I was a wonderful, carefree person and inside I was dying. When I’d see little babies in buggies, I’d automatically think of David. Every day, I thought of him.”
Majella knew that she was facing the severest possible sanctions. Mena Robinson was her social worker in Cura, the Catholic Church’s crisis pregnancy agency.
“I was keeping Mena informed of the proceedings that were against me and then I was told by an inspector in Store Street that they were thinking of sacking me, that that’s what he had heard on the grapevine and I went straight to Mena Robinson and I said it to Mena and she said ‘They will not sack you’.”
There’s a meeting being held with the Garda commissioner Larry Wren, archbishop McNamara, and herself in the archbishop’s palace.
“Mena came back to me after that meeting, and told me that archbishop McNamara turned to Larry Wren and said ‘If you sack Majella, you’re opening the gates to England’. And at that stage, it was decided that I was to be cautioned.
“Archbishop McNamara at that stage saved my job. He didn’t want guards going to England to have abortions, that’s why my job was saved.”
It was decided that Majella would not be dismissed from An Garda Síochána, and the charges against her were dropped. She received a caution and was told that if it happened again she would be sacked.
“A short while after that, I was coming in to duty one morning and an inspector approached me on the steps of Store Street and said ‘Majella, please come to the office’ and I went ‘please, inspector, leave me alone, I can’t take anymore’ and he said ‘you have to come up’. So we went up to the office, and there was the papers on the table and he said ‘you’ve made the headlines’ and I remember just falling to the ground and just saying ‘what else are ye going to do to me?’ I felt totally betrayed at that stage again, that some member of the gardaí had given it to the papers. And the charge sheets and everything. The only thing that wasn’t was my name wasn’t mentioned.”
The headlines read ‘Garda baby - disciplinary moves bring opposition’; and ‘Ban garda mother not to be punished’.
“For me, when I saw it on the papers, I just felt totally violated again and that my whole life was out there in the media and that everybody was reading it and it was on the Six O’Clock news as well and I was sitting in the sitting-room and my father was watching the news and he said to me ‘Do you know that girl?’ and I said ‘No’ and little did he know that it was me.”
The Irish Times this morning reports the case of an unmarried bangharda who gave birth to a baby last year. The father was a probationary Garda.
The matter was also discussed on RTÉ current affairs radio programme – Day by Day
Jack Marrinan is general secretary of the Garda Representative Association. Surely every citizen is entitled to a private life and that their job shouldn’t be at risk if they offend some other code?
“The Association wouldn’t like it to go out and I wouldn’t like it to go out because I am the father of a young lady myself and there may be other young ladies who may be listening from time to time – I wouldn’t like anybody to think that this is the normal condition or appropriate behaviour.
“The Garda Síochána has within it a relatively small number of banghardaí, only a few hundred, and by and large they are an extremely highly moral group of ladies.
“And I see the Garda Síochána as people who should be giving a lead. And I think that the rules which our society up until now anyway expects us to obey should generally speaking be obeyed by gardaí as well.”
Further reactions were heard on the Women Today radio programme
“I think actually here what we’re talking about here is grim reality and grim reality in Ireland is the 11th commandment: thou shalt not be found out. We’ve seen it in these terrible cases over the last year since the passing of the 8th Amendment. We’ve seen the Ann Lovett case, we’ve seen Eileen Flynn, we’ve seen Joanne Hayes and now we have the case of the banghardaí and what unites those women is that they have been caught. They have been found out because they continued their pregnancies and because they produced babies.”
Though the case against Majella was now closed, that was not the end of the matter. In April 1985, almost one year after her son was born, Majella was summoned as a witness in an internal Garda disciplinary Inquiry, now being held to investigate the father of her child. Proceedings were held in Co. Donegal.
“I walked in and the father of my son was sitting on the right with his representative. There were chief superintendents, superintendents, an inspector, a sergeant and a stenographer and I was put in a seat in the middle of the floor. And they started.
Sworn testimony of bangharda Moynihan taken on 30th April 1985
Question - Did you become pregnant deliberately?
Answer - Why should someone want to become pregnant deliberately?
Question - Did you want to hold on to [NAME REDACTED]while you were in Templemore?
Answer - Well, I liked him
Question - Did you have a physical relationship with him in Dublin before he joined the guards?
Answer - Yes
Question - Were contraceptives used?
Answer - Yes
Question - Was there a question of contraceptives not being used?
Answer - Not that I can recall
Question - Did you not feel that you would become pregnant as a result of having sexual relations with [NAME REDACTED]?
Answer - He used contraceptives
Question - How did this pregnancy occur if contraceptives were used?
Answer - He did not use them the night I got pregnant
Question - Was that at your suggestion?
Answer - No
“Questions were coming from every angle, from the top table, from the chiefs and superintendents and on the right-hand side, which was the father of my child and his representative. I still, to this day, don’t understand why I was brought up there. I don’t understand why they felt that they had a right to ask me about anything of my past. It had nothing to do with me getting pregnant. And then I was told that I had discredited the force.”
Question - Was there pressure applied to you to give the child up for adoption?
Answer - There was no pressure.
Question - Did you keep David for long?
Answer - No
Question - If [NAME REDACTED]had given you financial support would you have kept this child?
Answer - I don't know
Question - Did you have sexual intercourse with any other person from the time you had sexual intercourse with [NAME REDACTED].
Answer - No
“I often wonder what they thought was going to be the outcome of something so ferocious. How that they could even comprehend to put a 22-year-old vulnerable person who did nothing wrong, that they portrayed I had done so much wrong, into a room full of men and to tear me apart like they did.”
It was decided that the father of Majella’s child would be fined £90 for his conduct.
“I just feel the total injustice of a man being fined £90 and me being charged with giving birth to a child.”
After David was given up for adoption, Majella stayed in touch with one of the social workers.
“I would ring her quite often and send her cards and send her photographs and ask for photographs. There wasn’t a lot forthcoming really from the adoption society because David and his family had left Ireland, but I was aware of where he had gone and how he was doing and, and then there was long periods of time I heard nothing. “
“‘Dear Sister [NAME REDACTED]I am writing to ask you could you get photos of David because I want to have them to be able to look back and realise what I have done is for the better. Because there are so many times I have questioned my mind and am not able to come up with a sensible conclusion. Why this had to take place. I am just worried about David. Could you forward the photos as soon as you can? Thank you for everything. Take care, Majella.’ I can’t even remember, that was in ‘85.”
For the next ten years, Majella remained in An Garda Síochána but her mental health deteriorated considerably.
Her former Garda colleague Tom McGowan later transferred out of Store Street and it was several years before he saw Majella again.
“I went away on UN service and when I came back, I met Majella and I couldn’t believe that it was the same person, I was absolutely stunned. There was this lady sitting basically in the corner, she wasn’t as glamorously dressed as she normally would be. There was no spark. It was just terrible to see and you know, you knew that she was after being driven to some dark place is the best way of describing it. She was in her own world, as far as I could see, for a while and it wasn’t very nice.”
In 1994, 10 years after David was born, Majella began a relationship with Martin Peelo, who was himself a Garda Sergeant.
“And I saw this fella and I went ‘Oh my God, look at his eyes’ and that was it really.
“We just clicked, I suppose. The two of us were in the guards at the time and we’ve been together since.
“I was looking at a photograph there on Facebook. I think it’s the first one I ever put up of David. When he was 8 weeks old I have to say it really cut me now, I really felt it.”
“I didn’t know anything about what happened with her young lad at the time. I mean, I probably heard stuff back then, you know, because I mean it was in the newspapers and it would have been in the job. And then when she told me about it, like she was very, very ashamed.
“She felt really hurt. Felt forced to give up her child. Felt very abandoned and not supported by the organisation, and some of the ways that they treated her were ways that common criminals were treated.
“I have a prayer here, it’s called A Garda Prayer. And it says Almighty God grant me the skill and wisdom to make me always stronger in protecting the community from the evil-doer. Guide me in knowing when to enforce and when to relax the letter of the law.
“A young girl gets pregnant and she’s charged then with having a baby. I really can’t understand that.”
Three years into their relationship, Majella discovered that she was pregnant.
“The voice I heard was ‘If it happened you again you’re sacked’ and I thought ‘Over my dead body. By goodness, ye’ll not do anything to me’. Went off anyway and the little buster was born anyway in May of ‘97 and when I gave birth to Stephen it awakened the whole of David’s birth again and the difference oh my God. Martin was there holding my hand, the excitement, oh my God, the excitement was just unbelievable and yet I was feeling guilty because I felt so happy that I was giving birth. With David I didn’t know where I was going, what I was doing, I didn’t know anything, I was a completely different person altogether in completely different circumstances as well I suppose and everything else, but... Martin and myself then we got married.”
In 1998, after fifteen years in the job, Majella decided to leave An Garda Síochána
“Before I signed that dotted line, I had said to a bangharda that I wanted to get out of the guards. She was in the welfare section and I remember then I got, as we call it, a half sheet from Garda Headquarters that I was being discharged on medical grounds. But as the years went on, I wanted to find out as to what they put down on the report as a member who left the Garda Síochána on medical grounds. They discharged me on the grounds of infirmity of mind. And I looked back through one of my reports and they said that I was suffering from depression. Yes, they were right, yes I was suffering from depression but again they never brought it back to the treatment that they inflicted on me. So they had another dig at me. Infirmity of mind.
“October 1998, I signed that line that I left the Garda Síochána. I’m smiling as I say it. There was a part of me sad because I knew I hadn’t fulfilled my dream but there was another part of me so empowered, I felt so empowered of the fact that I had turned my back on an organisation that had turned their back on me.”
Majella and Martin’s son Stephen is now 21 years old.
“It’s only now when I look back and I never hear my Mam talk about the guards, stories like my Da would. He’d talk for hours, he’d have such a positive experience of the guards, he’d have such good friends from the guards. Then my Ma, she never talked about it, never like, and it’s just when you actually think back now it’s understandable why she didn’t talk about them but it’s definitely not understandable why they treated her like that though.”
In 2017, Majella found out through her social worker that her son David wanted 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 and I was looking and I was upset that he was now a man so he had grown up without me, so there was mixed emotions there.
“All I can remember doing is when he walked in I just burst out crying. I just cried and cried.”
“I can remember the first time I met him, he walked in, I was just looking at my Ma, and he was sitting beside her, oh my God they are literally the spit of each other – same eyes, same nose, same face, same everything, same mannerisms, when they look at people, it’s the exact same.”
“When a child is taken from you and when a child is given to somebody else, and I’m speaking of my own experience, there’s not a day of your life that goes by that you don’t think of that child and what if I had him, what would I be doing with him and how would he be if he was with me? That hole will never be filled. Every day to this day, I think of him.”
When contacted about the case of Majella Moynihan, An Garda Síochána replied that it’s not their policy to make comment on any matters arising from internal Garda disciplinary matters.
For years she has wanted an apology and she has wanted to put this part of her life behind her.
Majella has never received an apology from An Garda Síochána for how they responded to her pregnancy.
“I knew 35 years ago what they did was wrong. I know today what they did was wrong. Yes, I want an apology.”
Majella is now training as a Mindfulness Coach. She also, now, has a relationship with her son David.
“I’m so happy in my life today, I have a beautiful son 21 years of age, my other son is 34 years of age. I never thought, ever in my life, that I would have contentment.”
To this day, she attends counselling to try to work through the trauma of her first pregnancy and her experience in the guards.
“I think for Ireland in the 1980s, in the middle 1980s, that it’s an appalling infliction on any female to have been charged with giving birth and charged with having intercourse. Two of the most beautiful things in the world, and yet I was charged with them and today I know that what they did was totally wrong and that I am very lucky to be the strong person that I am to have come out of it.”