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Varadkar says he has confidence in Maria Bailey as a candidate in the next general election

A motion of no confidence has been tabled against the Dun Laoghaire TD.

TD Maria Bailey was demoted by the Taoiseach earlier this year.
TD Maria Bailey was demoted by the Taoiseach earlier this year.
Image: Niall Carson

Updated Oct 18th 2019, 3:10 PM

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has said he has confidence in TD Maria Bailey as a general election candidate.

Speaking in Brussels today, he said Bailey is someone who made “some very significant errors of judgement, but she has been reprimanded for that, she has been demoted. I demoted her and removed her as the chair of the [Oireachtas] Housing Committee”.

The comments follow a motion of no confidence being tabled against Bailey within the party.

The motion has been tabled in her own constituency,and was put down by the Blackrock District of Fine Gael, a section of the Dun Laoghaire branch

It is understood the motion was not dealt with last night, however, a counter-motion deferring the motion to a later date was passed after concerns were raised by members that no prior notice that the motion was being tabled was given.

If passed, the motion has the potential to remove Bailey as a party candidate in the next general election.

Varadkar said Fine Gael is a democratic party “and our members do decide who their candidate is, and we have to respect that”.

This morning, Tánaiste Simon Coveney reaffirmed his support for Bailey.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Sean O’Rourke show this morning, Coveney said that the electorate will ultimately have their say on Bailey.

“Maria Bailey is somebody who has paid a very, very heavy price for making a mistake and she continues to pay that price,” he said, adding:

“She is a very hard-working TD, she has been selected to represent Fine Gael in the next General Election.”

Coveney said Bailey is “looking to rebuild her political career”, stating that she is working very hard to do that. 

The Tánaiste spoke of the disciplinary action taken against Bailey, and encouraged people to have a sense of fair play in terms of proportionality.

“The Maria Bailey I know is somebody who would desperately like to rewind the clock on some of the choices she made.

“She has paid an extraordinary price for a mistake and is dying to move on with both her political career and her life,” he said. 

Coveney said the controversy has taken a toll on Bailey and her family, adding that surely “there is some point” where a person is allowed to move on. 

Demoted 

Bailey was demoted, but not suspended from the party following an internal party review, which found that she “overstated” the impact of injuries she suffered following a fall at the Dean Hotel in Dublin.

The Dún Laoghaire TD withdrew legal proceedings she had filed against the hotel after claiming she had been injured when she fell from a swing at the premises.

Bailey took to the airwaves to speak about the case on RTÉ’s Sean O’Rourke programme in May, in what her own party colleagues have described as a “car-crash interview”. 

Despite later dropping her lawsuit, Bailey was strongly critical of the media for its coverage of the case, saying it acted as “judge, jury and executioner” during its reporting.

Bailey has stated that she regrets taking the case and that she “made no attempt to mislead”.

Leo Varadkar demoted Bailey and removed her as chair of the Oireachtas Housing Committee. 

Since the controversy, a number of TDs have stated that they do not believe Bailey should run in the next general election, for fear that it could damage the party. 

TheJournal.ie reported in July that the Taoiseach received dozens of complaints about Bailey and the case. 

Fine Gael gave no response to queries by TheJournal.ie on the matter. TheJournal.ie attempted to contacted Bailey, but there was no response by the time of publication.

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