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Fine Gael to launch internal review into Maria Bailey swing fall case

In recent days, the Taoiseach said Bailey caused ‘reputational damage’ to the party.

Fine Gael politician Maria Bailey has been embroiled in more controversy since her radio interview with Sean O'Rourke on Monday.
Fine Gael politician Maria Bailey has been embroiled in more controversy since her radio interview with Sean O'Rourke on Monday.
Image: Niall Carson

FINE GAEL IS to launch an internal review into Maria Bailey swing injuries claim.

The Dun Laoghaire TD met with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar this afternoon to discuss the fall out from her swing fall case.

A statement from the party tonight states: 

“An Taoiseach and Fine Gael party leader Leo Varadkar met today with Deputy Maria Bailey.

“In relation to a civil case which Deputy Bailey is withdrawing from the courts, Fine Gael is undertaking an internal review to establish all facts. The review will be undertaken by David Kennedy, Senior Counsel.

“Deputy Maria Bailey has agreed to participate fully with this review.

“Fine Gael will not be making any further comment at this time.”

Bailey withdrew her claim last week, but the furore over her actions has led to questions over the Dún Laoghaire TD’s future in Fine Gael. They intensified after her “car crash” interview on RTÉ’s Sean O’Rourke programme.

‘Reputational damage’

In recent days, the Taoiseach has said that Bailey has caused “reputational damage” to the party.

Fine Gael TDs and ministers reacted to the radio interview on Monday, with Health Minister Simon Harris calling it “unfortunate” and Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty stating that Bailey did “a disservice” to herself.

It’s understood that party HQ did not get any previous notice about Bailey’s media appearance.

Fine Gaelers were left questioning what penalties – if any – Bailey should face over what has been dubbed the “swing-gate” scandal.

One senior party member said that it seemed near impossible for Bailey to be punished for the case, as it is a personal matter, and she is entitled to take a case if she so wishes. However, they added that was the train of thought within the party up until the radio interview on Monday.

Since then, there have been calls within Fine Gael for Bailey to be sanctioned, with one party source saying that they could see her chairmanship of the Oireachtas Housing Committee being removed from her (this gives an additional payment of €9,500 to a TD that holds the position) but did not envisage that she would be expelled from the party, stating that would be an “overreaction”.

Bailey did not chair the housing committee this afternoon. 

While the focus has been on Bailey in recent days, the focus has also moved to Arts Minister Josepha Madigan, and what role she played in advising Bailey on the claim.

Bailey was being represented by Madigans solicitors, a family business the arts minister was previously involved in. A government spokesperson outlined yesterday that Madigan had divested all interests in the firm when she entered public office.

They also said Madigan indicated that she would not breach any client confidentiality. 

When asked about her Madigan’s role in the claim, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said:

“This is a matter for a company that I know Josepha no longer plays a direct role in, the day-to-day management of because of course her key area of responsibility now is as a member of Government.

“And as you know the Taoiseach is planning to meet Deputy Bailey and I think after that meeting then, it would be more appropriate for me to cover further on it.”

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