Majella Moynihan: 'I carried that shame and guilt for many, many years'


Michael Staines
Michael Staines

17.47 14 Sep 2020


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Majella Moynihan has said it took her years to get rid of the shame and guilt she felt when she was told she had demoralised the Gardaí by having a child out of wedlock.

Ms Moynihan has opened up about her experiences of being interrogated and threatened with dismissal from the Gardaí after she became pregnant as a 21-year-old Garda recruit in 1984.

She was charged with was charged with having premarital sex with another garda recruit and for giving birth out of wedlock and, after giving birth, she was pressured into giving her baby up for adoption.

Last year, she finally received a formal apology from the Garda Commissioner and the Department of Justice.

Majella Moynihan: 'I carried that shame and guilt for many, many years'

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

    

On The Pat Kenny Show this morning, the 58-year-old said her baby was taken from her as soon as he was born.

“It was just deemed that I wasn’t keeping my child,” she said. “That my child was just going for adoption.

“It was horrific. I carried that baby for nine months and then he was born and I didn’t even get the chance to hold him; I didn’t get the chance to look at him; I didn’t get the chance to touch his skin; I didn’t get a chance to do anything.”

In her new book, ‘A Guarded Life: My Story of the Dark Side of An Garda Síochána,’ Ms Moynihan outlines everything that happened from the moment she revealed her pregnancy to a female officer.

She said she “believed every word they said to me” when she was told that she had somehow demoralised the force.

“That is so sad now,” she said. “Me as a 58-year-old woman speaking to you and telling you that for many, many years, I carried that shame and that guilt, that I had demoralised the force.

She said it took her years to begin undoing the damage that guilt inflicted.

“I was in John of Gods and I had to open that wound; that depth of wound and look at it and change it,” she said. “Change it because I did nothing wrong.

“That was the best freedom I ever got because I did nothing wrong to deserve the treatment that was inflicted on me by An Garda Síochána.”

Pain

Ms Moynihan said she has become aware that Garda officers she worked with at the time had written reports noting that they didn’t want her to be disciplined, only to be ignored.

“Garda Headquarters wanted somebody to stand up and say well you have shamed the Gardaí; you have shamed the female Gardaí,” she said.

“How they expected any 21-year-old girl to rise above that and to be the person she really wanted to be? It wasn’t possible.

“I lived outside of my body for many, many years because I couldn’t face the pain, the horrific shame and the abuse they inflicted upon me as young unmarried mother.”

Complaint

She said that, to this day, she still wonders who it was that filed the original report against her.

“Even 36 years on, I have often said I would love to know the man who made those charges because what gets me is that, if he was a father, how would he like it if it was his child that was charged with giving birth and having sexual intercourse outside marriage?” she said.

“To me it was total violation; civil rights were abused, it was just horrific and the one thing I want to get out there to all women is never be ashamed of carrying a child outside marriage.

“Hold your head up high, be true to who you are and let no man put you down.”

You can listen back to the full interview here:

Majella Moynihan: 'I carried that shame and guilt for many, many years'

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

    


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