Sitting Galway West Fine Gael TD has tonight confirmed he will not be running in the upcoming General Election for health reasons.
Deputy Walsh – who served on Galway City Council from 2004 to 2011 when he was elected to the Dáil – withdrew his candidacy on medical grounds following intense speculation.
A long-term campaigner for funding for the expansion of services at Galway Hospice, Deputy Walsh said he had “no choice” but to accept medical advice.
In a statement issued tonight, he said: “It is with deep regret that I have decided to withdraw my candidacy in the forthcoming general election in accordance with medical advice.
“I have been experiencing health problems for some time, which have resulted in hospitalisation on two occasions recently. Thankfully, I’m currently on the mend but, unfortunately, my condition is liable to relapse or worsen unless considerable changes are made to my lifestyle.
“I am aware that there has been speculation concerning my political future since my most recent hospitalisation in September. I have done everything possible to resist making this decision and had hoped to overcome my condition in order to be able to continue. But in recent days, it has become clear that I have no choice but to accede to medical advice and withdraw my candidacy in the forthcoming general election.
“The demands of my role as a public representative have had an impact on my condition that is unsustainable in the long term.
“I have struggled greatly with this decision and have done everything possible to avoid having to make it. I have been involved in politics and Fine Gael since I was ten years’ old, and I have been honoured to serve as a public representative for the past 11 years.
“It is particularly difficult in light of two recent opinion polls that suggest, as I have always believed, that we will return to government after the next election and will retain two seats in Galway West.
“While it is with great sadness that I must step back from this role, I take solace from the fact that this will enable me to spend more time with my family, which has been a scarce and precious commodity in the face of competing demands in political life.
“I wish to thank my wife, Fiona, my daughters, Lisa and Amy, my family and supporters, and the people of Galway West for their backing and their trust. It has been a great honour to represent the people of this constituency at national and local level. I am indebted to all those who voted for me throughout the years, and for the tremendous support given to me by Fine Gael members in the constituency.
“I have informed An Taoiseach Enda Kenny of my decision, and I would like to thank him for his support throughout my political career and, in particular, his understanding and support in recent days.
“In the forthcoming campaign, I intend to lend my support to my Fine Gael colleagues in Galway West, where I am confident the party will retain its two seats and return to government in the next Dáil.
“I am proud to have supported a government, whose actions – together with the sacrifices that people have made – have turned the country’s fortunes around as more and more people return to work, and our financial condition continues to improve.”
Gardaí bid to identify body recovered near Mutton Island
Gardai have launched an investigation following the discovery of a body in Galway Bay yesterday afternoon.
A member of the public raised the alarm after spotting the body in the water while walking on the causeway to Mutton Island.
Galway Fire Service, Gardai and the RNLI attended the scene and recovered the body at around 4pm, before it was taken to University Hospital Galway for a post mortem.
It is understood that the body may have been in the water for some time.
Gardaí are currently examining a list of missing people in the city.
Gardaí investigate fatal Carraroe crash
A man in his 30s has died following a road crash in Carraroe in the early hours of this morning.
At 3.50am, Gardaí and emergency services attended at a single car collision on a minor road.
The driver of the car, a man in his 30s, was pronounced dead at the scene a short time later. A passenger in the car, a male in his 30s, was taken by ambulance to Galway University Hospital. His injuries are not thought to be life threatening.
The road is currently closed and local diversions are in place. Garda forensic collision investigators will examine the crash site this morning.
Land Development Agency rules out Merlin ‘land grab’
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Campaigners have warned the Land Development Agency (LDA) to keep its hands off Merlin Woods.
Local community group Friends of Merlin Woods said that the amenity on the east side of the city is not suitable for residential development.
It has sought clarification on whether the LDA has earmarked part of the recreational and amenity lands for housing, after it appeared on its online database of publicly-owned lands.
In a statement to the Galway City Tribune, the LDA said its database compiles a list of all State lands, not just land for development.
In relation to Merlin Woods, the LDA said: “Those lands aren’t included in the LDA developments in Galway. The lands database is a map-based tool which compiles all State lands and has no reflection on development potential.”
It came after Caroline Stanley of Friends of Merlin Woods raised concern that land within Merlin Woods had been earmarked for development.
“I’d be concerned that it’s marked as residential when it’s in RA (Recreational and Amenity) land. Some is marked ‘open space’ but some is marked as ‘new proposed residential’ on its [LDA’s] database. It makes us wonder why. We’d like clarity and to clear it up.
“The message we’d like to get out there is we need clarification, whether it’s a mistake on the Land Development Agency’s part, or whether it is an area that they consider as a residential area, which the community would be opposed to. We need clarity. It could be something that is in line for development later on, we don’t know, and we need clarity.”
Councillor Owen Hanley explained that the fears around Merlin Woods stem from legislation currently making its way through the Oireachtas that would strip councillors of powers to veto the transfer of land to the LDA for housing projects.
The Bill would also allow Government to direct what public lands – including those owned by local authorities – can be transferred to the LDA for development of social and affordable housing.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.