Belfast Telegraph

Garda Commissioner refuses to be drawn on Majella Moynihan pension

Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee told Commissioner Drew Harris that hearing Ms Moynihan’s story made her ‘sick in the pit of her stomach’.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris (Niall Carson/PA)
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris (Niall Carson/PA)

Ireland’s top police officer refused to be drawn on whether Majella Moynihan should receive a full Garda pension.

During an Oireachtas Committee on Wednesday, Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee told Commissioner Drew Harris that hearing Ms Moynihan’s story made her “sick in the pit of her stomach”.

Ms Moynihan became pregnant outside of marriage after joining the Garda in the 1980s. She was pressured to give up the child, which she wanted to keep, and was penalised by senior gardai.

The father of the child was also a Garda trainee. He was fined 90 pounds.

Her case became known after she was interviewed for an RTE radio documentary.

She has attempted suicide five times in the time since, and receives a discounted pension due to leaving the force on health grounds.

Ms Clifford-Lee said: “Majella Moynihan’s story reflects the distressing reality of what life was like for women in Ireland not so long ago.

“It was heartbreaking listening to her, joining the guards she felt liberated from her upbringing, and instead of that bright future she was doled out horrible abuse, interrogated and forced to give her baby up.

“She was treated like a scarlet woman by colleagues, and told by an Assistant Garda Commissioner in 1989 her career would go nowhere because of her history.”

Ms Clifford-Lee highlighted Ms Moynihan does not receive a full Garda pension, and asked the Commissioner if he would now support a full pension payment.

“These are matters now the subject of negotiations with solicitors, and I wish to reserve my position,” Mr Harris replied.

Ms Moynihan was given a redacted version of a personal file in 2017, and was told the unredacted version had been lost or destroyed.

The Garda Commissioner met with Ms Moynihan last week at Garda Headquarters to apologise for the treatment she endured.

“I did meet with Majella and her solicitor and it was very clear any communication from here on was all to go through her solicitor,” Mr Harris added.

“We do have files, retrieved from electronic storage, the original files have been subject to a weeding process, but an electronic copy was taken.

“It’s hard to say if it’s complete, from what I saw it’s a pretty full account.”

He told the committee that the 2017 files handed over are subject to data protection law and the redactions include third-party names.

The Commissioner said he was sure what happened to Ms Moynihan could never happen within the force today.

“All told, it is a shocking story and a tale from the past that couldn’t happen now, and I want to make it clear to individuals that An Garda Siochana is an open and inclusive environment and I want to make that clear to the public and those who wish to join.”

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