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'I wasn't sneering': Ross says he wasn't 'having a go' at Maria Bailey with swing photo

The minister said Bailey taking out an insurance claim after falling off a swing at a Dublin hotel was ‘a mistake’.

TRANSPORT MINISTER SHANE Ross has criticised TD Maria Bailey for taking out an insurance claim after falling off a swing at a Dublin hotel, calling it a “a mistake”. 

Speaking on RTÉ’s Sean O’Rourke programme, the minister was asked about a photograph of himself on a swing, which he posted on social media last week. 

Ross said it was a “moment of humour”, adding that he was out canvassing when someone told him to sit on the swing for a photo. 

“The controversy was in full rage at that moment and I thought it was quite humorous, and I put it out and said this one is swinging alright. There was no judgemental view involved with it.

Bit of humour 

“I wasn’t sneering at all, I was just showing a bit of humour in a very serious situation,” he said. 

He added that he wasn’t “having a go” at Bailey, and said he wasn’t “making any judgement”.

I don’t think people took it too seriously -  it was only a moment of a little humour, it was nothing serious and nothing judgemental one way or the other. 

The Dún Laoghaire TD drew criticism last week after it emerged that she had filed legal proceedings against the Dean Hotel after she fell from a swing at the venue.

The hotel denies any negligence.

Bailey had claimed she suffered injuries to her head, lower back and hip in the alleged incident.

In an interview with RTÉ’s Sean O’Rourke on Monday, Bailey defended her claim and said she was “genuinely hurt” by the fall.

Bailey interview

Bailey was strongly critical of the media for its coverage of the story, saying it acted as “judge, jury and executioner” in the case. 

During the week, the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said Bailey had caused “reputational damage” to the party. Since then, the Taoiseach has met with Bailey about the claim, with the Fine Gael party launching an internal review to establish the facts surrounding the case. 

Other ministers such as Health Minister Simon Harris and Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty have criticised Bailey for her actions. 

When asked about Bailey facing such criticism, Ross said his ministerial colleagues were “put in a very difficult position by a party colleague, and they had to make statements about it” .

“Had they defended her, I think they would probably be defending the indefensible, so they were put in a situation where they said what they thought. I don’t think any of them wanted to dump on her in any particular way, but what she did in taking that case was a mistake.

“They were asked if their party colleague had made a mistake and they told the truth, that what she did was wrong. I feel sorry for her in the sense that she has taken an awful hounding and an awful hazing in the media, but once people are asked, once government colleagues are asked for their opinion on it, I suspect they are right to give an honest opinion,” he added. 

Swing is here to stay 

The Dean Hotel has said it is satisfied with the outcome of the case, and reassured customers today that the swing in the hotel will not be removed.

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. 

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