Brian Walsh’s re-admittance to the Fine Gael parliamentary party and the favour of the Taoiseach took another step forward during the latter’s recent visit to the city.
There was much cordiality, positive body language, and even a touch of ‘Bromance’ when the two men - who had a major political falling out over the Abortion Bill during the summer - attended a variety of events last Friday.
Dep Walsh had voted against the Government’s Protection Of Life During Pregnancy Bill in July and was immediately expelled from the Fine Gael parliamentary party. He was then informed he could no longer call himself a Fine Gael TD; and that he might not be readmitted to the party, leaving Dep Walsh facing the future and the 2016 General Election as an Independent.
However, Dep Walsh had previously been very loyal to Taoiseach Kenny and strongly favoured by party HQ. As a result, it was no surprise when behind the scenes moves started happening to allow Dep Walsh return to the party fold ahead of 2016.
The first piece in the choreography was Dep Walsh’s refusal to join the Reform Alliance and his email to Lucinda Creighton and others, where he said he had “no desire to participate in a grouping that would have the potential to compromise the stability of the Government and its continual efforts towards national recovery”. It also emphasised his “good personal and working relationship” with An Taoiseach.
The rapprochement continued during Taoiseach Kenny’s visit to Galway city last Friday to switch on the Christmas lights.
Dep Walsh, although still not formally back in the parliamentary party, attended a number of events with the Taoiseach during the day. Interestingly Dep Walsh was only local Oireachtas member to accompany the Taoiseach.
Following the turning on of the Christmas lights, he joined the Taoiseach at Freeney’s pub to attend the 100th birthday party of Julie Freeney, followed by visits to the Meyrick and later to O’Connell’s in Eyre Square.
Mayor Pádraig Conneely remarked on the warm welcome Taoiseach Kenny extended to Dep Walsh during his speech, asking him if this was a sign of things to come.
Dep Walsh’s re-admittance to the FG parliamentary party is now a matter of when, not if.