Leo Varadkar: FG national executive member Barry Walsh should resign over tweets

The Health Minister says he 'echoes the sentiments' expressed by the Taoiseach

Leo Varadkar: FG national executive member Barry Walsh should resign over tweets

Barry Walsh, then President of Young Fine Gael, pictured in 2008 at Dublin's Buswell's Hotel | Image: Mark Stedman/RollingNews.ie

Updated 14:45

The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said a member of the Fine Gael executive council accused of bullying women on Twitter should step down.

Barry Walsh has sent tweets to female politicians, including those in his own party, using words such as 'bitch.'

He also labelled Sabina Higgins a 'vile woman.'

Fine Gael Dublin Bay South TD Kate O'Connell circulated screen-grabs of tweets at a meeting of TDs and Senators on Wednesday night:

Source: Twitter

Higher standard

The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar arrives for an EU social summit in Gothenburg, Sweden. 1711-2017. Image: Jonas Ekstromer/AP/Press Association Images

Speaking in Stockholm before an EU summit on Friday, Mr Varadkar said Mr Walsh should resign:

"What I'd say is that Mr Walsh's conduct is below the standards of what I'd expect from a Fine Gael officer.

"There are lots of trolls, lots of nasty people and lots of horrible language on Twitter - but I expect Fine Gael officers to set a higher standard.

"I think at this stage it would be for the best if he resigned and stepped down as a member of the Fine Gael Executive Council pending disciplinary procedure, which is now underway."

High standards

Yesterday the Health Minister, Simon Harris commended Deputy O'Connell for highlighting the issue - but stopped short of calling on Mr Walsh to resign.

This afternoon however, he said he agreed with the Taoiseach’s stance on the issue:

“I echo the sentiments of the Taoiseach on this matter this morning,” he said. “The Taoiseach has made it clear that in his view, it would be better if somebody who clearly holds those views and has behaved in such a way didn’t hold that office.”

“Obviously there does need to be a process and I am very pleased that the party has acted quickly when my colleague Deputy Kate O’Connell brought this to the party’s attention.

“I think Kate has done a great service in speaking out in support of high standards and against low ones.”

'Consistent, sustained, gendered abuse'

Yesterday, Deputy O'Connell told Pat Kenny: "This was about highlighting the fact that we have somebody on the national executive of Fine Gael who thinks it's appropriate to behave in this manner.

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

"And as a member of the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party, I don't think it's acceptable and to be honest - conversations after the meeting last night - the wider membership of the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party do not think this is acceptable behaviour".

Ms O'Connell says several tweets relate to other female politicians: "It's consistent use of the word 'bitch' with reference to women."