THE first Fine Gael TD to confirm he will not vote for the abortion legislation as it contains the risk-of-suicide grounds says his move is not a criticism of Taoiseach Enda Kenny's leadership.
Galway West deputy Brian Walsh said he will not vote for the legislation and accepts he will lose the party whip.
But he said he wanted to make it clear that he fully supported the Taoiseach and the Government and he remained loyal to Mr Kenny.
"This isn't an anti-Enda Kenny thing," he said. "Had I been there in 2010 (during the leadership heave) I would have supported the man. If there was one tomorrow, I would support him."
But Mr Walsh said he had a responsibility to the people he represents. "If I knowingly participate in the enactment of legislation that is fundamentally flawed, I would be failing in that responsibility," he said.
Mr Walsh said he would like an open vote on the abortion legislation. "The Taoiseach has ruled it out. The last thing I want to do is lose the party whip. I have always held this position. I wrote to the Taoiseach last week about it."
Mr Walsh said his problem was solely with legislating for abortion where there is a threat of suicide. He said he did not have a difficulty with legislation clarifying the position where there is a medical threat to the mother.
He added that he wanted to see a referendum on the question of the threat of suicide. "The simple way is to put it to the people," he said.