Treatment of Majella Moynihan ‘wrong at every level’ - Taoiseach

Varadkar says treatment of former garda ‘sexist’ and that Ireland has changed since 1980s

The treatment of former garda Majella Moynihan was ‘deeply sexist’ and ‘wrong every level’, the Taoiseach has told the Dáil. Photograph: RTÉ.

The treatment of former garda Majella Moynihan was ‘deeply sexist’ and ‘wrong every level’, the Taoiseach has told the Dáil. Photograph: RTÉ.


The treatment of former garda Majella Moynihan was “deeply sexist” and “wrong at every level”, the Taoiseach has told the Dáil.

Leo Varadkar said Ms Moynihan’s story “has gripped the nation in the past few days”.

As a Garda trainee in the 1980s, Ms Moynihan became pregnant outside marriage and was forced by An Garda Síochána to give up her son for adoption. Mr Varadkar said “there may well be” other women who were in a similar situation.

Ms Moynihan was threatened with dismissal from the force and was subject to an investigation. The father of her child, also a Garda trainee, was fined £90.

The Taoiseach said the next step should be for Ms Moynihan to meet the Garda Commissioner Drew Harris and Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan and to tell them what she believed the next step should be.

It is understood that a meeting is likely to take place at Garda HQ in the Phoenix Park this week, although an exact time and date have not yet been confirmed.

Mr Harris and Mr Flanagan have already apologised to Ms Moynihan in the wake of the RTÉ radio documentary in which she told her story at the weekend.

The Taoiseach said Ms Moynihan, who left the force in 1998, was “ made to feel shame.

“The way she was penalised was deeply sexist,” he said, adding that the way she was treated “was wrong at every level”.

The he case “does demonstrate to us how much our country and our State has changed since 1984”, he said.


Mr Flanagan told the Dáil he intended to apologise to Ms Moynihan in person in a meeting in the coming days.

“As Minister for Justice and Equality, I sincerely regret the appalling ordeal that Ms Moynihan faced as a young Garda member,” he said.

“The treatment she has described was simply wrong on every level. In fact, it is shocking.”

He said various issues had been raised in relation to the case including the question of Ms Moynihan’s pension.

“I expect this issue to be examined and discussed when Ms Moynihan meets the Commissioner,” he said. “I do not intend to pre-empt that discussion. I would just caution that the situation is a complex one.”

‘Brought to heel’

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said Ms Moynihan “was brought to heel for the transgressions of having a child out of marriage”.

The State had an obligation to retrospectively pay Ms Moynihan her full pension.

Ms McDonald called on the Minister to establish whether other women were treated in the same way in the force as there was anecdotal evidence to that effect.

She also called on former minister for justice Michael Noonan to make a statement on the issue. Mr Noonan, who was justice minister in the 1980s, spoke to Ms Moynihan 10 years ago and told her that it was an internal Garda matter, the Sinn Féin leader said.

Mr Varadkar told her that “very many ministers for justice served since 1983 and I don’t really think that this is what this is about - having a go at a former minister”.

He said “I don’t think this should be an occasion for political interaction such as that” but rather to hear what Ms Moynihan believed should be the next step.