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Taoiseach to meet Maria Bailey 'as early as tomorrow' to discuss swing fall insurance claim

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said Bailey has caused “reputational damage” to the party.

Image: Eamonn Farrell

THE TAOISEACH IS set to meet with Maria Bailey to discuss her swing fall insurance claim – with some sources suggesting the meeting would take place as early as tomorrow.

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

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said afterwards that Bailey has caused “reputational damage” to the party. It is understood that the Taoiseach, who is in Brussels today, will meet with Bailey this week to discuss the matter.

The Taoiseach said he has a number of questions to ask Bailey, with a meeting with the Dun Laoghaire TD due to be held “in the near future” according to the government press secretary.

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

Fine Gaelers are now questioning what penalties – if any – Bailey might 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 yesterday.

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”.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin called for her chairmanship of that committee to be removed in an interview on Newstalk earlier today.

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

It is also understood that the interview was not raised at the pre-Cabinet or Cabinet meeting last night.

Local elections

A number of TDs have raised fears the case had an impact on the Fine Gael local election result. 

One TD stated that the party pledge for Fine Gael should be amended to ensure that any possible court cases, claims or issues that could cause damage to the party should be raised with party headquarters.

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During the Today with Sean O’Rourke interview, Bailey was asked about the specifics of her fall, which occurred before she was elected as a TD in 2016.  

“We purchased a drink each at the bar, which we didn’t consume,” she said of herself and a friend. 

We went up in the lift, we saw the swings. Nobody was drunk, nobody was messing. They’re like polished woods these seats, I sat in them, I did have a bottle of beer in my hand and next I knew I was on the floor.

“I had my beer in my hand and I was reaching for my friend, who had a bottle of wine, she was taking her camera out of her jacket. I then found myself on the floor, I was mortified,” she added. 

Bailey was specifically asked whether she had things in both hands when she fell off the swing. The TD responded that this was not for her to answer. 

- Additional reporting Aoife Barry

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