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Conservative senator Jim Walsh resigns from Fianna Fáil parliamentary party

He does not agree with certain aspects of new family law.

Screenshot 2015-03-26 at 16.25.41 Source: Oireachtas.ie

FIANNA FÁIL SENATOR Jim Walsh has resigned from the parliamentary party this afternoon after expressing his opposition to sections of the Children and Family Relationships Bill, which is currently going through the Seanad.

The bill extends guardianship and adoption rights to, among others, same sex couples and updates the law to bring clarity to the status of children born through assisted human reproduction methods.

Walsh is opposing 36 sections of the bill and has tabled an amendment calling for IVF methods to be primarily made available to married heterosexual couples.

Speaking in the Dáil today, he said there are “many gaps” in the legislation, particularly in the area of allowing children born via sperm donation or similar methods to know the health history of their biological parents.

In his resignation letter Walsh said he would also be tabling and pressing amendments to the Marriage Equality Bill, citing his “deeply held and conscientious opinions”:

FullSizeRender Walsh's resignation letter

A Fianna Fáil spokesperson confirmed that Walsh met with party leader Micheál Martin this morning, adding:

It was clear that his position is not where his party is at in relation to the bill and he resigned.

Wexford-based Walsh is known for his conservative views on social issues having opposed civil partnership legislation in 2009 and the abortion legislation that moved through the Oireachtas nearly two years ago.

He remains a member of Fianna Fáil but is now outside the parliamentary party.

He is the second Fianna Fáil senator to relinquish the party whip within the last four months after Mark Daly’s opposition to the Water Services Bill saw him automatically forfeit the whip last December.

Speaking on the Marriage Equality Bill in the Seanad yesterday, Walsh said he believed encouraging gay people to believe “sameness” could be achieved would only cause them “more harm than good”.

Opposing the proposed change to the Constitution to allow same-sex couples to get married, he said he believed the move would change “the definition and conception of family”.

As marriage currently protects the natural ties between mothers, fathers and their children, he said “changing marriage removes that protection”.

Walsh did not immediately respond to TheJournal.ie‘s request for comment.

Read: Senator warns against encouraging gay people to believe “sameness” achievable

About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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