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Sunday 20 May 2018

Fine Gael member quits over abusive tweets controversy

Barry Walsh has resigned
Barry Walsh has resigned

Fine Gael national executive member Barry Walsh has resigned in the wake of the controversy over his Twitter comments.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar had earlier said Mr Walsh should resign after it emerged he called senior female politicians derogatory names on social media.

Fine Gael TD Kate O'Connell brought Mr Walsh's comments to the attention of the party on Wednesday night at a parliamentary party meeting.

Disciplinary

A senior Fine Gael source confirmed yesterday afternoon that Mr Walsh has resigned from its national executive with "immediate effect".

In a statement released yesterday afternoon, Fine Gael said: "Fine Gael executive council chairman Gerry O'Connell has today at 3.15pm received and accepted the resignation of Barry Walsh from Fine Gael's Executive Council.

"The resignation takes effect immediately."

Earlier, Mr Varadkar, speaking from Gothenburg, where he is attending a meeting of all EU heads of state and government, said: "It would be for the best if he resigned and stepped down as a member of the Fine Gael Executive Council pending a disciplinary procedure which is now under way."

Mr Walsh also allegedly took aim at other women in the public eye such as Sabina Higgins, the wife of President Michael D Higgins, Sinn Fein TD Mary Lou McDonald and actor and pro-choice activist Tara Flynn.

"Mr Walsh is below the standard of what I'd expect of a Fine Gael officer," the Taoiseach said.

Over recent weeks, Mr Walsh posted a series of abusive tweets, targeting people who favour repealing the Eighth Amendment.

Crude

On Wednesday night, Dublin Bay South TD Ms O'Connell handed out screen-grabs of his Twitter activity and informed colleagues she had written to Fine Gael secretary general Tom Curran to complain about the abuse.

Mr Walsh had also made particularly crude references to actor Tara Flynn, who is the voice of Blind Date on TV3.

Ms Flynn has spoken about her own experience of seeking an abortion in the past and vocally supports a change in Ireland's restrictive laws.

On October 1, Mr Walsh tweeted: "From what Tara Flynn says, she was pregnant and just couldn't be bothered having a baby. So she had it killed. Why is she a feminist hero?"

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