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'I don't know how she's still standing': Doherty sympathetic to Bailey but declines to express election support

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

Image: Eamonn Farrell

SOCIAL PROTECTION MINISTER Regina Doherty said she respects the will of Fine Gael members in Dun Laoghaire after they voted in favour of a review of candidates on the constituency’s next general election ticket. 

Doherty declined to express support for Bailey to run in the next general election as a Fine Gael candidate during a press briefing this morning, but added “on a human level, I think she’s been through an incredible amount in the last number of months”. 

She also said she believed Maria Bailey is a “fine politician” and questioned “how she is still standing” after she was criticised for lodging a personal injury claim against the Dean Hotel, which she later withdrew and apologised for. 

Members of the Fine Gael party in Bailey’s Dun Laoghaire constituency last night held a vote on whether a review of the constituency’s election candidates on the next general election ticket should be held. A majority of members at the meeting voted in favour of the review.

It means Bailey’s place on that ticket is under threat and the concerns of the members will now go before the party’s national executive for consideration. 

Speaking today, Doherty said she respects Bailey for her “strength of character” while details of her claim were questioned by the media and politicians in the Dáil Chamber. 

“She’s a colleague of mine for many, many years. I think she is a fine politician and on a human level I think she has been through an incredible amount in the last number of months,” she said. 

I actually don’t know how she’s still standing and I think that goes to show the strength of the character that she actually is. 

Doherty refused to be drawn on why most of her fellow senior party colleagues have not publicly expressed support of the TD to run in the next election and said it was not evidence of a lack of support. 

“I don’t think that’s an answer in itself. I think you don’t stick your nose into other people’s constituencies. I’m not sure if you are aware of what constituency politics is like but I have my own constituency and that’s my concern.”

When news broke of the motion concerning the Dun Laoghaire ticket last month, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he still supported Bailey but that the outcome of the vote would be respected. 

Doherty today said: “I think she has been through an incredible amount but at the end of the day, we’re a democratic party, the members are always the ones that choose the ticket.

“I think the concerns of that motion and that ballot now have to be sent to the national executive who will consider and recognise the concerns that they clearly have.

“I think this issue hasn’t been without its controversy over the months but on a human and a personal level. Maria is a colleague of mine and I do respect her.”

Bailey withdrew legal proceedings she filed against the Dean hotel after claiming she had been injured when she fell from a swing at the premises.

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. 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Culture Minister Josepha Madigan and Health Minister Simon Harris all refused to comment on the motion yesterday ahead of last night’s vote. 

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