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Taoiseach drops hint that Bailey will be dropped from FG ticket ahead of crunch meeting

Fine Gael members voted for a review of the Dun Laoghaire election candidates following ‘Swing-gate’.

Updated Nov 14th 2019, 1:30 PM

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has strongly hinted that Maria Bailey will be taken off the ticket for the next general election, stating that the “democratic will of the constituency should be respected.

Fine Gael is expected to take TD Maria Bailey off its Dún Laoghaire general election ticket at a meeting of the party’s national executive council later today.

The national executive, which is due to meet in the party’s headquarters this evening, is expected to follow the wishes of the constituency membership, who voted to review the election ticket.

Senior party sources have said Bailey will be removed from the ticket, which some have said has been an inevitable outcome.

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.”

Controversy surrounded Bailey earlier this year in relation to proceedings she filed against the Dean Hotel after 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, which some of her party colleagues have said was a serious error in judgement.

One senior party source told this website that had Bailey come out and apologised early, like Fianna Fáil’s Lorraine Clifford Lee this week, the Dún Laoghaire TD might not be facing into losing her Dáil seat. 

fine-gael-parliamentary-meeting The Fine Gael national executive will meet today to decide whether to remove Bailey from the general election ticket after swing-gate. Source: Niall Carson

The radio interview gave fuel to the fire, and ensured that the party had to step in, they said.

Following the radio interview, an internal party review found she “overstated” the claim and led to her being demoted from her role as head of the Oireachtas housing committee by the Taoiseach.

Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty told reporters this week that she respects the will of Fine Gael members in Dun Laoghaire after they voted in favour of a review of candidates.

Doherty declined to express support for Bailey to run in the next general election as a Fine Gael candidate, as did many other ministers recently. However, Doherty did state that “on a human level, I think she’s been through an incredible amount in the last number of months”. 

After tonight’s meeting, it is expected that a press release will be issued announcing Bailey’s fate, with some party sources speculating that her replacement will also be announced. 

Councillors Lorraine Hall and Jennifer Carroll MacNeill are potential replacements for Bailey. One senior source stated that Carroll MacNeill is expected to win out.

The Irish Independent reported this week that former MEP Marian Harkin has been approached by Fine Gael to be a candidate in the general election next year.

While one party member said that Harkin might well be announced as a candidate this evening, another senior party source said that the deal is still not over the line with Harkin, as of yet.

However they indicated that there are a number of high-profile candidates that may be announced in other constituencies across the country in the coming weeks.

With reporting from Seán Murray

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