State Papers: Disapproval of gardaí retaining maiden names
Chief state solicitor did not sympathise with preference but saw no objection to it
Former chief state solicitor Louis Dockery with Major RH Bicker: opinion sought on possible legal complications of women gardaí continuing to use their maiden names after marriage. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh/The Irish Times
Gardaí who continued to use their maiden names after marriage were not breaking any laws, but they did not meet with the approval of the chief state solicitor, State papers released under the 30-year rule show.
Documents released as part of the Office of the attorney general file show female gardaí had written to the commissioner for permission to retain their maiden names after marriage.
In a letter to the then chief state solicitor Louis Dockery, contained on the Attorney General file, assistant commissioner Francis Davis said “a number of recently married and still serving” women had sought the commissioner’s approval to retain their maiden name for official purposes.
Before giving his decision, the commissioner wanted Dockery’s view on whether legal complications might arise. The letter was passed on to the then attorney general with a note stating that when a woman on marriage assumed the surname of her husband in substitution for her father’s name, the change was “in fact rather than in law”.
It said a woman on marriage was “entitled to retain the name by which she was known before marriage and to continue to be known by that name”. No legal complications could arise, he advised, as long as the identity of the garda was positively known.
“Although I would not sympathise with the preference that has been made by them, I can see no objection to it,” Dockery said.
Another note addressed to the attorney general from an unnamed official agreed with Dockery.
There was no record in the file of the commissioner’s final decision.