Saturday 21 April 2018

Revealed: Dossier of nasty tweets from senior Fine Gael figure

Actor Tara Flynn describes situation as “genuinely shocking”

Kate O'Connell
Kate O'Connell
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

This is the dossier of ‘nasty tweets’ by a member of Fine Gael’s national executive.

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

Last night Dublin Bay South TD Kate O’Connell handed out screengrabs of his twitter activity and informed party colleagues she has written to Fine Gael secretary general Tom Curran to complain about the abuse.

Mr Walsh has made particularly crude references to actor Tara Flynn, who is the voice of ‘Blind Dates’ on TV3.

Kate O'Connell presented the dossier of printed tweets to the meeting on Wednesday
Kate O'Connell presented the dossier of printed tweets to the meeting on Wednesday

Independent.ie initially censored an abusive tweet about Ms Flynn – but she has now said that the full extent of the post should be publicised.

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?”

Speaking to Independent.ie, Ms Flynn said: “It’s genuinely frightening when it seems a senior member of a party in government is allowed to get away with misrepresenting you.

Kate O'Connell presented the dossier of printed tweets to the meeting on Wednesday
Kate O'Connell presented the dossier of printed tweets to the meeting on Wednesday

“I’m glad to see Fine Gael, and Kate O’Connell in particular, taking it seriously.”

She has now also written a letter of complaint to Fine Gael bosses.

Kate O'Connell presented the dossier of printed tweets to the meeting on Wednesday
Kate O'Connell presented the dossier of printed tweets to the meeting on Wednesday

In other tweets Mr Walsh described Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald and Social Democrats co-leader Roisin Shortall as “b**ches”.

In an unprecedented move Ms O’Connell printed out the social media posts and passed them around at a private meeting of Fine Gael TDs and senators last night.

Kate O'Connell presented the dossier of printed tweets to the meeting on Wednesday
Kate O'Connell presented the dossier of printed tweets to the meeting on Wednesday

She has written a formal letter of complaint to the Fine Gael’s General Secretary Tom Curran.

On Saturday Mr Walsh posted a Twitter message in which he claimed that after an even-tempered debate on abortion, Ms O’Connell yodelled “Look at all them men, discussing our uteruses!”

He later accused her of using wrong statistics to back up her arguments, adding: “Looks like someone following tactic of hard-left pols: hear a false statistic that sounds good, don’t bother to check it, then repeat it as ‘fast’.”

Mr Walsh has been unavailable for comment.

Tara Flynn
Tara Flynn

Meanwhile, Social Democrats' Roisin Shortall described the tweets as "nasty".

“He is like one of these many keyboard warriors who sits at home tweeting nasty things about people. Unfortunately there is lots of people like that. The difference with him is he has a fairly senior position within Fine Gael and I suppose it’s up to the Taoiseach to deal with that," she told Independent.ie.

“It is matter for Fine Gael. I certainly wouldn’t be happy with someone involved at a senior level in Social Democrats behaving like that and it would be dealt with it within the party.

“It’s not appropriate that someone senior within the party is expressing such unpleasant views.

“It doesn’t bother me that someone is calling me a b***ch, things like that happen all the time but he is actually wrong about me voting twice for budgets in the last government. I voted for one of them but he was inaccurate about that.

A spokesman for the party said that "a letter of complaint against a party member has been received by Fine Gael"

"This will be referred to the party’s Executive Council. The party will not be making any other comment at this time," he said.

Independent.ie understands that the complaint will most likely be referred to the disciplinary committee of Fine Gael by the Executive Council and Mr Walsh will be given the right to reply to the complaint.

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