Sunday 18 August 2019

De-profiled: Fine Gael TD Kate O'Connell removes Facebook photo featuring friend Maria Bailey minutes after RTE interview

Fine Gael TD Kate O’Connell 'cover photo' was a picture of her with her sister Mary Newman-Julian (right) and her close friend Maria Bailey (left)
Fine Gael TD Kate O’Connell 'cover photo' was a picture of her with her sister Mary Newman-Julian (right) and her close friend Maria Bailey (left)

Áine Kenny

Fine Gael TD Kate O’Connell changed her Facebook photo mere moments after her friend and colleague Maria Bailey’s interview with Sean O'Rourke.

The Dublin Bay South TD’s 'cover photo' was a picture of her with her sister Mary Newman-Julian, a Fine Gael election candidate for Tipperary, and her close friend Maria Bailey.

Maria Bailey (left) and Kate O'Connell (right) out canvassing together for the local elections. This image was posted to Ms Bailey's Facebook page on May 16th last Pic: Facebook
Maria Bailey (left) and Kate O'Connell (right) out canvassing together for the local elections. This image was posted to Ms Bailey's Facebook page on May 16th last Pic: Facebook
Maria Bailey and Kate O'Connell out canvassing for the local elections. This image was posted to Ms Bailey's Facebook page on May 16th last, just days before news emerged of Ms Bailey's action against a Dublin hotel on May 20th Pic: Facebook

It had been her Facebook 'cover photo' since March 24.

But at 10:32am on Monday morning she switched it for a group photo without the now-controversial figure.

Maria Bailey on the left, and Kate O'Connell, on the right, out canvassing for the local elections. Mary Mitchell O'Connor also features in the image. This picture was posted to Maria Bailey's Facebook page on May 16th last
Pic: Facebook
Maria Bailey on the left, and Kate O'Connell, on the right, out canvassing for the local elections. Mary Mitchell O'Connor also features in the image. This picture was posted to Maria Bailey's Facebook page on May 16th last Pic: Facebook

This was only a few minutes after Maria Bailey's controversial interview on RTE's Today with Sean O'Rourke about her swing fall case against Dublin's Dean Hotel.

A number of Ms Bailey's Fine Gael colleagues have been critical of her decision to do the interivew.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said the interview was "ill-judged in both tone and content".

Health Minister Simon Harris also commented, saying her defence of the compensation claim was "unfortunate", while Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty said Ms Bailey did herself a "disservice" by doing the interview.

It's understood Fine Gael did not know Ms Bailey agreed to do the pre-recorded interview prior to its broadcast.

Ms Bailey has since instructed her solicitors to withdraw the case against Dublin's Dean Hotel.

Prior to the news that Ms Bailey was attempting to sue the hotel for the fall off a swing, Ms Bailey would have been pictured with Ms O'Connell regularly over the years.

Indeed, Ms O'Connell posed with Ms Bailey while out canvassing for the local elections. These photographs were posted to Ms Bailey's social media platforms just days before the swing case made headlines.

A spokesperson for Ms O'Connell said the TD would not comment about the photograph change, with the spokesperson adding that she didn't see "how it is relevant".

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