Barry Walsh quits Fine Gael role after ‘trial by media’

The Fine Gael TD abused online by colleague Barry Walsh has welcomed his resignation from the party’s national executive council after a damning 48-hour public backlash.

Barry Walsh

Dublin Bay South TD Kate O’Connell told the Irish Examiner last night she is “glad he respected the Taoiseach and the party” by stepping down — despite Mr Walsh claiming he is the victim of “trial by media”.

In a letter to Fine Gael general secretary Tom Curran at 3.15pm yesterday, hours after Taoiseach Leo Varadkar publicly said Mr Walsh should resign, Mr Walsh said he was resigning from the national executive council “immediately”.

The 32-year-old, who was former Young Fine Gael president and director of elections for Education Minister Richard Bruton in last year’s general election, said he has resigned “out of respect” for the party’s members and Mr Varadkar, and “in order to prevent any further distraction”.

However, despite saying “I deeply regret the tone and language used in some of my tweets”, Mr Walsh also lashed out at media coverage of the controversy, saying he has been subjected to “trial by media” and is leaving “without prejudice to any disciplinary investigation”.

Mr Walsh stepped down after Ms O’Connell circulated a series of Twitter messages from him at Fine Gael’s parliamentary party meeting on Wednesday night, four days after the pair clashed during a party Eighth Amendment debate.

Among the dozens of messages were derogatory references to Ms O’Connell, Sinn Féin TDs Mary Lou McDonald and Louise O’Reilly, Social Democrats TD Roísín Shortall, British Labour party MP Diane Abbott, and others as “bitches”.

Mr Walsh also told comedian Tara Flynn —who had an abortion — that she “had it [the foetus] killed” because she “couldn’t be bothered” having a baby, remarks Mr Walsh said in his resignation letter were “political jousting”.

Ms O’Connell told the Irish Examiner: “I am glad he respected the Taoiseach and the party, by accepting his wrongdoing and apologising for it. It is unfortunate Mr Walsh put himself in this position of public scrutiny and I hope going forward others can learn and grow from this experience.”

Mr Walsh’s resignation came hours after Taoiseach Leo Varadkar publicly called for him to step aside, telling reporters in Gothenburg, Sweden, a day after downplaying the controversy, that “it would be for the best”.

The Fine Gael national executive council is due to discuss potential disciplinary action at its next meeting in late November.

Mr Walsh’s employer, A&L Goodbody, opened an investigation into the abuse.



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