Jim Walsh (Irish politician)
September 1997 – April 2016
5 May 1947|
New Ross, County Wexford
|Political party||Fianna Fáil (1974–2015, 2016–)|
Early and personal life
Walsh is a native of 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 businessman and company director. He is a member of the Chartered Institute of Transport, a Senator of Junior Chamber International and is a former president of the Irish Road Hauliers' Association.
He was elected in 1974 to New Ross Town Council, serving as Mayor for nine terms and a member of Wexford County Council from 1979 to 2004, serving as Mayor from 1992 to 1993. Walsh was National Chairman of the Irish Local Authority Members Association from 1997 to 2002.
In 1997, he was first elected to Seanad Éireann by the Agricultural Panel. From 1997 to 2002, he served as government spokesman on Environment and Local Government in the Seanad. In subsequent terms he served as government spokesperson on Justice, Equality, and Law Reform between 2002 and 2007, and Communications, Energy, and Natural resources from 2007 to 2011. He is currently the Fianna Fáil Seanad spokesman on Foreign Affairs and Trade and a member of the Foreign Affairs and Trade Committee.
He is currently a Board Member of Parliamentarians for Global Action, a New York-based non-governmental organization dealing with peace, democracy, human rights and the rules of law. He is also a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) as well as being a member of the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly and a participant in the International Catholic Legislator's Network since its inauguration.
Walsh has fulfilled a number of international speaking invitations in recent years. In 2011 he was invited to address a conference in Colombo, Sri Lanka on the Northern Ireland peace process. At the invitation of the Pontifical Council for the Family he read a paper on the topic of "The Family" at the World Meeting of Families in Milan, May 2012. At the PGA Conference in Bogota, Colombia, December 2013 he addressed the subject of "Disarmament and Decommissioning- The Northern Ireland Experience and its Relevance for Colombia.
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 2014 "Pantigate" controversy in which the national broadcaster RTÉ paid a purported €85,000 to conservative commentators, Walsh argued that some 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 Marriage Equality 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 "David Norris could describe gay people as ‘fairies’ – while he could not".
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.
In December 2015, in abortion-related debate, Walsh told Senator Ivana Bacik that she should seek 'treatment for hemorrhoids'., and later said: "You go on like harpies every time somebody calls for simple fairness".
In September 2015, Walsh admitted editing his own Wikipedia entry, claiming it had been edited by "a person from the gay lobby groups". He said that he had removed "certain erroneous comments" but did not say which edits he made or what was erroneous. T.J. McIntyre, a law lecturer at University College Dublin drew attention to edits made from an IP address belonging to the Oireachtas. Edits made from that address included removal of controversial comments made by the former senator about gay people and the Marriage Equality referendum.
- "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.
- "The Irish Peace Process – Speech by Senator Jim Walsh". fiannafail.ie.
- "Senator Jim Walsh's Speech at VII World Meeting of Families, Milan, May 30th, 2012". senatorjimwalsh.com.
- "SenatorJimWalsh&JuanManuelS". senatorjimwalsh.com.
- "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.
- Sheahan, Fionnan (5 February 2014). "Fianna Fail Senator refers to 'dangerous, vicious elements within the gay ideological movement'". Irish Independent.
- "Senator Jim Walsh suggests gay marriage referendum money 'would be better spent on HIV testing for gay community'". Irish Independent. 31 March 2015.
- Conor McMorrow (29 November 2009). "Fianna Fáil senator in row over 'fairy' slur on gay people". Sunday Tribune. Archived from the original on 7 December 2009.
- Brian O'Reilly (27 September 2015). "Senator Jim Walsh admits editing his own Wikipedia page after it 'was changed by person from gay lobby groups'".
- "Senator under fire for 'fairies' comment". Irish Examiner. 30 November 2008.
- "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.
- "Uproar as Senator Jim Walsh tells colleague to seek 'treatment for hemorrhoids' in abortion-related debate on Seanad floor". Irish Independent. 10 December 2015.
- "Wexford senator to be allowed back into Fianna Fáil parliamentary party". South East Radio. 28 January 2016.
- O'Reilly, Brian (27 September 2015). "Senator Jim Walsh admits editing his own Wikipedia page after it 'was changed by person from gay lobby groups'". Sunday Independent. Retrieved 27 September 2015.