Varadkar says tweets by Barry Walsh are ‘unacceptable’

Member of FG National Executive used term ‘bitch’ to describe women on social media

Fine Gael National Executive member Barry Walsh who faces a party disciplinary process over abusive tweets. Rolling News

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has strongly criticised as “unacceptable” abusive tweets posted by a senior member of Fine Gael and said a disciplinary process is under way.

Barry Walsh, who is a member of the Fine Gael executive council, will face an internal disciplinary inquiry over tweets in which female politicians and pro-choice campaigners were described in derogatory terms, including “bitch”.

In a short statement last night, the Taoiseach promised a swift disciplinary process and said that all party officers had responsibilities to uphold the highest standard.

Fine Gael TD Kate O’Connell has raised the issue of inappropriate and offensive behaviour by National Executive member Barry Walsh

“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,” he said.


“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,” he added.

The issue was brought to light by Dublin Bay South TD Kate O’Connell at a Fine Gael meeting on Tuesday where she presented a series of tweets by Mr Walsh, some of which were directed at her.

She said that as an elected member of the executive council, she would have thought he “would uphold higher standards of ethics and behaviour on social media than an ordinary member of the party”.

The tweet that has caused the angriest reaction was one that he posted about comedian and actor Tara Flynn, who had a termination.

He wrote: “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?” Ms Flynn tweeted in response: “I’d like to meet Barry Walsh. I don’t expect an apology, but I’d like him to sit across from me and say whatever he has to say.”

In earlier tweets, Mr Walsh had described Mary Lou McDonald of Sinn Féin as a “stupid bitch”. He also described Social Democrats co-leader Roisin Shortall as a “bitch”.

Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty yesterday described Mr Walsh’s comments as “bile” . She particularly singled out the comments directed at Ms Flynn, and apologised on behalf of the party.

She said there should be no place in the national executive for somebody like Mr Walsh, who freely expresses such inappropriate and offensive views.

Saying he needed to be sorted out, Ms Doherty said: “This young man has serious issues. He is one of the angriest young men I have come across.”

The Irish Times tried to contact Mr Walsh for a comment but was unsuccessful.

Ms O’Connell has written to party general secretary Tom Curran complaining about Mr Walsh’s personalised attacks .

Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times