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Maria Bailey won't chair Oireachtas meeting this morning as talks with Taoiseach loom

Speaking this morning, Sinn Féin’s Eoin Ó Broin said “we can all guess the answer” as to why Bailey wouldn’t chair the meeting.
May 29th 2019, 8:06 AM 33,311 86

UNDER FIRE TD Maria Bailey will not chair the meeting of the Oireachtas Housing Committee this morning, as she’s set to meet the Taoiseach to discuss the fall out from her swing fall claim.

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

In a statement issued by the Oireachtas yesterday just before 3pm advising of the meeting this morning, it included comments from Bailey about how the committee was “eager” to discuss the latest update on the government’s Rebuilding Ireland plan with Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy.

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, Sinn Féin’s housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin said it’s a question for Bailey as to why she now won’t chair the meeting “but we can all guess the answer to that”.

Commenting generally, Ó Broin said the general public was dissatisfied with the high cost of insurance in this country.

“There is a huge amount of anger out there from taxi drivers, creche owners, from community centre managers on the spiralling cost of insurance,” he said. “There’s anger at the government for failing to tackle this.”

Referring to Bailey’s interview on RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke on Monday morning, Ó Broin said he thought that people would have found it “very, very difficult to believe or accept the version of events Maria Bailey put on the record”.

“I’m not going to make a judgement until I hear the outcome of the meeting with Leo Varadkar, but I do think she has an awful lot of explaining to do if she’s to come back and resume business as normal,” the Sinn Féin TD added.

‘Reputational damage’

With Bailey now not set to chair the Oireachtas committee meeting this morning, it’s believed she’ll sit down with the Taoiseach to discuss the latest furore.

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 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 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”.

With reporting from Christina Finn

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