GALWAY WEST TD Brian Walsh who was kicked out of the Fine Gael parliamentary party after he voted against his colleagues on abortion legislation has been brought back into the fold.
In a statement this evening, Fine Gael party chairperson Charlie Flanagan TD confirmed that Walsh has been readmitted to the parliamentary party, which is made up of all TDs, Senators and MEPs.
Party leader Enda Kenny recommended that the party should accept the readmission at a meeting of the parliamentary party this evening, after Walsh had asked permission to rejoin. The decision was unanimously agreed.
Last June, Walsh had said that Fine Gael TDs were “being forced to choose between their conscience and their livelihoods” over the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill. He automatically lost the whip for voting against the party.
Some of the other Fine Gael rebels who voted against the Bill formed the breakaway Reform Alliance. However Walsh made it clear that he always wished to re-join the party, saying earlier this year: “I have always said that I wanted to be a member of [the] Fine Gael party. I think I have demonstrated, unlike other members, that this was a single issue matter for me”.
Charlie Flanagan said that Walsh had remained a Fine Gael supporter even after he lost the whip.
“Brian has consistently voted with the Government over the last 10 months, and he has been very active in recent weeks in his support of Fine Gael candidates running in the local and Euro elections in Galway,” he said.
“Brian re-joins the party as we move towards the local and European elections with a firm focus on bringing about jobs, stability and growth”.