Friday 23 August 2019

'Taoiseach needs to deal with senior Fine Gael figure's 'misogynistic' tweets' - Shortall

Social Democrat TD Róisín Shortall
Social Democrat TD Róisín Shortall
Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

Roisin Shortall has said the Taoiseach must deal with a senior Fine Gael figure's "misogynistic" tweets.

Social Democrats' Shortall was one of a number of female politicians allegedly called a “b**ch” by the senior figure.

The issue has come to light this week after Dublin Bay South TD Kate O'Connell handed out printouts of tweets allegedly from the account of Barry Walsh at a private meeting of TDs and Senators on Wednesday.

Ms O'Connell claims that on the Twitter account of a member of the Fine Gael Executive Council, there are a number of derogatory tweets about her and other female politicians, referring to Mary Lou McDonald and Roisin Shortall as b***hes.

“He strikes me as a very obnoxious person just reading the tone of his tweets. There is a very definite misogynistic tone running through them all," Ms Shortall told Independent.ie.

“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.

“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.

Ms Shortall said she doesn’t get a huge amount of abuse online and tends to ignore anything of that nature.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told Independent.ie: "Mr Walsh’s use of language is not acceptable to me as Party Leader.  A disciplinary process is now in train and will be completed swiftly in accordance with the party rules."

He added: "All debate should be conducted in a respectful manner at party meetings, in the media and on social media. Party officers have a particular responsibility to set the standard in that regard."

Female members of Fine Gael have roundly criticised Mr Walsh for his Twitter activit.

Speaking to Pat Kenny on Newstalk this morning Ms O’Connell said she is confident the matter will be dealt with by the party and said she does not accept his behaviour given his standing in the organistaion.

“This is not a bad weekend he was having this has been consistent, sustained and it's gendered abuse that has been going on for a long time and it’s not acceptable," she said.

Her calls for the matter to be addressed in a robust manner were echoed by party colleagues Catherine Noone and Minister for Social Protection, Regina Doherty , who spoke on RTE's Sean O'Rourke show.

Minister Doherty said Mr Walsh, who joined the party when he was 16, "reached a pinnacle on Saturday afternoon,” she said.

Meanwhile, Senator Catherine Noone, also criticised his social media activity but said it is “very important that natural justice and due process is observed here”.

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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