Tuesday 15 October 2019

FG needs to focus on the real unanswered questions, not the media

Maria Bailey. Picture: Tom Burke
Maria Bailey. Picture: Tom Burke
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Many questions remain to be answered about the Maria Bailey case - but how the story came to light is not one of them.

Clearly the Dún Laoghaire TD feels aggrieved at the negative publicity her lawsuit generated and suspects somebody set her up for a second fall.

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However, Ms Bailey herself has admitted she knew the case would find its way into the media at some stage. She "distinctly asked" would the information become public so that she could prepare "for it being out there".

"And I was told this will not be public until you are before the courts and I was perfectly fine with that," she said.

Yet after the story broke on the eve of the local elections, she claimed "somebody has tried to character assassinate me". Now Leo Varadkar is trying to establish whether this was the case and, if so, who that 'somebody' might be.

It's a pointless exercise for two reasons. Firstly, there is zero chance the Irish Independent will do anything to compromise our sources. And secondly, it is not in the public interest to start a media or political witch hunt.

The series of stories published by this newspaper were evidently in the public interest. Mr Varadkar has even acknowledged as much. So why is his investigator asking reporters to break the most basic of journalistic principles? A Government TD taking a personal injuries case against a business because she fell off a swing while on a night out deserved scrutiny. There were big gaps in Ms Bailey's version of events. That's what the Fine Gael inquiry needs to focus on. Why was it claimed in court papers that she couldn't run? Does she really believe adults should be supervised on a swing?

Why was the case taken in the Circuit Court rather than a lower court if she only wanted medical expenses of between €6,000 and €7,000?

The voters of Dún Laoghaire and the public at large deserve the answers to those questions. And when that is established, the Taoiseach must draw his own conclusions as to how to respond as Fine Gael leader.

Irish Independent

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