Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan has said he wants to ensure State bodies and the Garda are “friendly workplaces for women” as he marked the 60th anniversary of women joining An Garda Síochána.
Speaking at the event at Dublin’s Farmleigh House yesterday, Mr Flanagan spoke of meeting and apologising to Majella Moynihan, an unwed garda who was forced to give up her child against her will.
Ms Moynihan’s career was halted due to discrimination she suffered in the aftermath of having a child “outside of wedlock”.
Currently, female gardaí only make up 27pc of the force, but Mr Flanagan said the overhaul of the force will work to advance gender equality.
“I’m keen to ensure that State bodies like An Garda Síochána are friendly workplaces for women,” he said.
“An Garda Síochána is going through a time of reform, and is an attractive career, and I would encourage more women to join.”
Among those who attended the event were former gardaí Sarah McGuinness and Angela Leavy who were among the very first women to join the force in the class of 1959.
Longford native Ms McGuinness told the Irish Independent: “I passed out in December 1959 and we were in Pearse Street for a year and in 1961, six of us were transferred to Store Street and there I worked for 23 years.
“I loved my time in the guards. I loved street patrol, I loved being out with the public and on the beat.
“I loved mixing with the community and mixing with the people. Even today, a sunny day in Dublin, I’d love to put on the uniform and on the beat again,” she smiled.
Ms Leavy, originally from Naas, Co Kildare, served at Pearse Street station.
“I was in the guards for only five years and I enjoyed my time there. I was sorry I had to leave due to the marriage bar.
“It was great experience to a certain extent and you learned a lot about people and all kinds of people and bad times and good times,” she explained.
“There were six of us in Pearse Street and then little by little they sent two here and two there and new girls came in afterwards.
“There was 12 of us women who trained together and got together and we didn’t know each other before and became very good friends.”