Thursday 19 September 2019

'I think she's paid the price' - Minister Madigan says she is 'beyond reproach' following Maria Bailey 'swing-gate' saga

Culture Minister Josepha Madigan. Photo: Doug O'Connor
Culture Minister Josepha Madigan. Photo: Doug O'Connor
Hugh O'Connell

Hugh O'Connell

Culture Minister Josepha Madigan has said she is “beyond reproach” after the Maria Bailey swing-gate saga and insisted she bears no responsibility for what her Fine Gael colleague has suffered.

In some of her first detailed comments on the controversy over Ms Bailey’s now-withdrawn personal injuries claim for a fall from a Dublin hotel swing, Ms Madigan said she has not spoken to her fellow Fine Gael TD since the story emerged in May.

Ms Madigan's family's law firm - Madigans Solicitors - represented Ms Bailey in her claim against Dublin's Dean Hotel after a fall from a swing in 2015. Ms Madigan left the practice in June 2017, but did give Ms Bailey "initial legal advice" and assisted in an application to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board.

Ms Madigan has repeatedly refused to answer questions on exactly what advice she gave to Ms Bailey, citing client-solicitor confidentiality.

Fine Gael’s Josepha Madigan (left) and Maria Bailey. Photo: Tom Burke
Fine Gael’s Josepha Madigan (left) and Maria Bailey. Photo: Tom Burke

Speaking at an event in Dublin today, the minister said: “I think from my own perspective, my own role is beyond reproach. I think, you know, the Taoiseach has said that and, you know, I’ve always maintained the highest professional standards.

“But from the perspective of that I know a little bit about what she must have gone through herself in terms of how she must have suffered through all of this and I think she’s paid the price in terms of having to resign as chair of the [Oireachtas] Housing Committee and other committees, but whether she runs or not really it’s up to her and possibly up to Fine Gael itself.”

Asked if she felt any responsibility for the damage done to Ms Bailey’s political career in the fallout from the controversy, Ms Madigan said: “No, I don’t, absolutely not.”

Ms Madigan is the latest cabinet minister to fail to back Ms Bailey’s re-election bid. While the Dún Laoghaire TD has been selected to run again for Fine Gael at the next election, there have been growing calls within the party for her not to do so. Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan repeatedly refused to endorse Ms Bailey in a recent interview with the Irish Independent.

Fine Gael TD Maria Bailey
Fine Gael TD Maria Bailey

Ms Bailey was removed as chair of the Housing Committee in July following a senior counsel’s review of her case. She stepped down as chair of two more Oireachtas committees earlier this month.

Ms Madigan was speaking at an event in St Stephen’s Green promoting a bursary scheme named for the revolutionary and first female minister Constance Markievicz.

The ‘Markievicz bursaries’ of up to €20,000 provide support for artists who produce new work that reflects the role of women in the period covered by the ongoing centenary commemorations.

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