Saturday 25 November 2017

Jim Walsh retires from politics

By David Looby

Senator Jim Walsh.
Senator Jim Walsh.

SENATOR Jim Walsh made what is likely to be his last contribution to the Seanad on Wednesday, as he is retiring from political life after 42 years, this spring.

Having led a colourful political career, which led to much national newspaper coverage, Senator Walsh has decided the time is right to step back from politics and all that it entails.

Walsh was elected 13 consecutive times. He was first elected in 1974 to New Ross Town Council, serving as mayor for nine terms and was 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.

A staunch Fianna Fáil man, he resigned from the parliamentary party on March 26, 2015, over its support for the Children and Family Relationships Bill 2015. Senator Walsh said there was a move within the party to get him back in, adding that he was happy to be invited back.

He was the only senator to have a motion in on Wednesday morning, on the right of an unborn child who dies in a car crash to be recognised as an individual. He recalled his career and spoke about unfinished business.

‘I will regenerate. I still have some things I was involved in a long time ago, so there’s unfinished business. When you’re in politics and business every day is predetermined, so I’m looking forward to not having everything laid out for me so I can do what I want to do.’

Senator Walsh said he has no regrets, adding that he was elected in 13 consecutive elections and enjoyed his time as a town councillor, helping to get a town park for New Ross, and the freedom to debate issues close to his heart in the Seanad. He expressed disappointment that the British never released files relating to who was behind the Dublin Monaghan bombings so there was no closure for victims’ families, adding that he hopes that this will happen someday soon.

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