Tuesday 24 October 2017

Rebel TD Walsh expects Fine Gael to welcome him back

Brian Walsh, Fine Gael deputy for Galway West. Photo:Tom Burke
Brian Walsh, Fine Gael deputy for Galway West. Photo:Tom Burke

John Fallon

REBEL Fine Gael TD Brian Walsh expects to be accepted back into the parliamentary party by Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

The Galway West TD was thrown out of the parliamentary party when he voted against the Government's Protection of Life During Pregnancy legislation last year.

But Mr Walsh says there has been a softening to the hardline approach adopted by Mr Kenny and he is confident of being welcomed back into the fold despite going against the party on the controversial vote.

"The Taoiseach has made some comments on this matter over the last six months and each time his approach has softened slightly and the most recent comments he made in Dubai he said 'never say never in politics' when he was asked if there was any way back for those who voted against the legislation.

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"Over the past number of weeks it has been indicated to me that a request be made of me in the coming months to make a formal application to rejoin the parliamentary party and that if I do that, senior sources within the party have indicated to me, that it will be looked upon favourably.

"But I haven't made an application yet and I am awaiting to be advised when is the best time to do it. I certainly will be making the application, I have been involved with Fine Gael for far too long, and I'm told it will be considered favourably," he said.

Mr Walsh said that one issue preventing him from re-applying at the moment is that Sinn Fein's Deputy Peadar Toibin was expelled from his party for six months – and it is unlikely Fine Gael would welcome back a rebel before that, given that they supposedly adopted a stronger stance.

"It would look unusual if Fine Gael, who had adopted a much stronger line, reversed the position and at the end of the day had a much softer position on it than Sinn Fein," he said.

"But ultimately, it is a matter for the Taoiseach to decide. He is the boss and it is his decision to make. But since the vote I have continued to enjoy a good relationship with the man, there is no animosity.

"It was a single matter of conscience for me and I have voted with the government on all the difficult decisions since that vote."

Irish Independent

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