Jim Walsh (politician)
5 May 1947 |
New Ross, County Wexford
|Political party||Independent (since 2015),
Jim Walsh (born 5 May 1947) is an Irish independent politician and member of Seanad Éireann since 1997. He is a member of Fianna Fáil but resigned from the parliamentary party on 26 March 2015 over its support for the Children and Family Relationships Bill 2015.
Early and personal life
Walsh lives in New Ross, County Wexford. Walsh attended New Ross Christian Brothers School. He is married to Marie Furlong, they have one son and two daughters. Outside of his Seanad duties, he works as a farmer and company director. He is a member of the Chartered Institute of Transport and is a former president of the Irish Road Hauliers' Association.
In 1997, he was first elected to Seanad Éireann by the Agricultural Panel. From 1997 to 2002, he served as spokesperson on Environment and Local Government in the Seanad and concurrently as a member of the Joint Committee on Environment and Local Government. He was the Fianna Fáil Seanad spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Trade.
In April 2008, Walsh claimed "that Chairmen of some of the tribunals used their position in order to act more or less as shop stewards for the wealthy legal profession". He later withdrew the comment, acknowledging that he may have caused offence.
Civil partnership legislation
On 24 April 2008, Walsh put forward a party motion to counter the proposed same-sex Civil Partnership Bill. The Irish Times reported that around 30 unidentified Fianna Fáil backbenchers had signed the motion. One anonymous Senator was quoted as claiming that the motion "would have considerable support from the more conservative sections of the parliamentary party". The Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, responded by insisting that the registration of same-sex couples would not interfere with the constitutional status of marriage. Cowen noted that the Bill had been drawn up in close consultation with the Attorney General and had been included in the programme for government.
The motion was referred to the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party's justice committee on 1 July 2008. Despite the challenge to the Bill, a Fianna Fáil spokesperson was quoted as saying that there was "broad support" within the party for the legislation, while the Taoiseach and the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Dermot Ahern reaffirmed the constitutional compatibility of the proposed law.
Walsh has repeatedly called for a freedom of conscience amendment to the legislation which would by-pass equality legislation, allowing people a religious exemption in providing goods and services to gay couples.
In the recent "Pantigate" controversy in which the national broadcaster RTÉ paid a purported €85,000 to conservative commentators, Walsh argued that proponents of same-sex marriage were "dangerous and vicious".
On 31 March 2015, he said in the Seanad that he could not support same sex marriage and that the money spent on the referendum would be better spent on testing the gay community for HIV
In November 2009, Walsh claimed that women working outside the home is a major cause of depression in young people, and also expressed annoyance that he couldn't call gay people "fairies".
On 7 July 2010, he resigned the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party whip, along with Labhrás Ó Murchú and John Hanafin, in protest at the Civil Partnership bill. He rejoined the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party on 23 November 2010.
On 16 July 2013, Walsh opposed the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill, and during the Seanad debate quoted an anti-abortion pamphlet's description of dilation and evacuation, which the bill's supporters criticised as inappropriate.
- "Mr. Jim Walsh". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 26 January 2010.
- Collins, Stephen (2011). Nealon's Guide to the 31st Dáil and 24th Seanad. Dublin: Gill & Macmillan. p. 200. ISBN 9780717150595.
- "Senator Jim Walsh". Fianna Fáil website. Retrieved 26 January 2010.
- "Jim Walsh". ElectionsIreland.org. Retrieved 26 January 2010.
- "Senator withdraws tribunal remark". RTÉ News. 24 April 2008.
- "FF Senator leads move to deny gay couples right to register". The Irish Times. 27 June 2008.
- "Taoiseach defends civil partnership plans". RTÉ News. 27 June 2008.
- "FF refers civil partnership motion to cttee". RTÉ News. 27 June 2008.
- "Ahern to meet TDs over Bill on partnership". The Irish Times. 3 December 2009.
- Conor McMorrow (29 November 2009). "Fianna Fáil senator in row over 'fairy' slur on gay people". The Sunday Tribune.
- "Three FF Senators relinquish party whip". RTÉ News. 7 July 2010. Retrieved 7 July 2010.
- "Cowen remains as FF leader after meeting". RTÉ News. 23 November 2010.
- "Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill 2013: Second Stage (Resumed) (Continued)". Seanad Éireann debates. 16 July 2013. p. 36. Retrieved 17 July 2013.
- Crosbie, Judith (17 July 2013). "Graphic description of abortion 'inappropriate', says Gilmore". The Irish Times. Retrieved 17 July 2013.
- Lord, Miriam (17 July 2013). "The air froze in the chamber: Walsh’s input was disgusting". The Irish Times. Retrieved 17 July 2013.