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'Swing-gate' TD Maria Bailey removed from Fine Gael general election ticket

The Dún Laoghaire TD was deselected following a meeting of the party executive.

Image: Niall Carson

FINE GAEL TD Maria Bailey has been removed from the party’s ticket for the upcoming general election, it was confirmed this evening. 

The Dún Laoghaire TD was deselected following this evening’s meeting in the party’s Dublin city centre headquarters.

In a statement, Bailey said she was “disappointed” with the executive’s decision and that she would “take time to reflect on it”. 

Bailey said she was advised yesterday by Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe and party General Secretary Tom Curran that her deselection was based on a motion by Fine Gael members in her constituency asking for an urgent review of general election candidates in the area.

Bailey said this evening that she “raised serious issues regarding the procedures of that meeting”. 

The Dáil deputy found herself at the centre of a media storm earlier this year after it emerged she had filed legal proceedings against the Dean Hotel claiming she had been injured when she fell from a swing at the premises. 

After withdrawing the claim, Bailey went on RTÉ’s Sean O’Rourke programme to defend her course of action, leading to further criticism of her handling of the fallout from the scandal.

At 5pm this evening, Bailey said she received a letter from Taoiseach Leo Varadkar confirming her deselection as a candidate in the forthcoming general election. 

“I had hoped to be able to move on and rebuild my reputation but at every turn there have been anonymous sources trying to reignite the story around me,” she said. 

“I have not given another statement since July or commented since May in the interest of the party, except to say it is an internal party matter.”

Bailey went on to thank the Fine Gael National Executive, adding she was “a proud member of Fine Gael” and that she will “continue to fulfill [her] role as a Public Representative”. 

In a statement this evening, Fine Gael confirmed Bailey’s deselection on “recommendation from the Taoiseach” and said that Councillor Jennifer Carroll MacNeill will be added to the ticket in the constituency. 

Earlier today, the Taoiseach strongly hinted that Bailey would be taken off the ticket for the next general election, stating that the “democratic will of the constituency should be respected.

Speaking to reporters this afternoon, Varadkar said: “When I became party leader, I said we would democratise our party… and we would listen to our party.”

One senior party source told this website that had Bailey come out and apologised early before the “swing-gate” controversy grew, like Fianna Fáil’s Lorraine Clifford Lee this week, the Dún Laoghaire TD might not have faced losing her Dáil seat. 

Ultimately, they said, Bailey’s interview on Sean O’Rourke  gave fuel to the fire, and ensured that the party had to step in.

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