Monday 22 January 2018

Walsh abandons rebel TD group over its alleged 'anti-Kenny bias'

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

A BITTER spat has erupted between the Fine Gael abortion rebels, with one TD saying their new Dail grouping could be seen as anti-Enda Kenny.

Galway West TD Brian Walsh has abandoned plans to enter the new group being set up by fellow rebels because he feels it has its roots in the heave against Enda Kenny.

But former junior minister Lucinda Creighton has accused Mr Walsh of imagining things.

Mr Walsh says the group is broadening its scope too wide and has the potential to destabilise the Government. He also says Mr Kenny still has his "respect and support".

The other TDs to lose the whip over abortion are Ms Creighton, Billy Timmins, Terence Flanagan and Peter Mathews. Roscommon TD Denis Naughten, who had already lost the whip after voting against cuts to his local hospital, is also to join the new group.

Also part of the group, which insists it is a Dail alliance and not a new political party, are senators Paul Bradford and Fidelma Healy-Eames.

Sources close to Mr Walsh, who took part in early meetings of the new splinter group, say he believes it has its roots "in the leadership heave" and he "didn't want to be associated with that".

He felt the group would be voting against the Government on a range of issues, whereas he was prepared to back the Coalition on everything except abortion.

But Ms Creighton said this was "a figment of his imagination". "He seems to be under the impression there is an awful lot more to this than there is.

"We are a very varied group of people. I worked with Enda Kenny for two years, closer than many other people because I worked in his department. His (Mr Walsh's) recollection of the meeting is different from others who were there."

Mr Timmins said the group was not "anti-Fine Gael, not anti-Enda Kenny". "We are merely a loose collection of people who came together to get greater speaking rights."

During the 2010 heave, Ms Creighton, Mr Timmins and Mr Naughten were among the TDs who opposed Mr Kenny.

Mr Flanagan voted for Mr Kenny, and Mr Walsh had yet to be elected to the Dail.

Yesterday Mr Walsh spelled out his concerns in an email to the other members.

One of the biggest worries is the approach being taken to the Seanad, with some members opposed to its abolition.

Ms Creighton emailed Mr Walsh back, saying: "I never ever agreed to be part of any alliance focused on opposing or targeting the Government. I am a member of Fine Gael."

Irish Independent

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