Wednesday 17 July 2019

FG stays tight-lipped on whether internal probe into Bailey case will be made public

Swing fall: Maria Bailey has dropped her compensation claim. Photo: Tom Burke
Swing fall: Maria Bailey has dropped her compensation claim. Photo: Tom Burke
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Fine Gael will not commit to publicly releasing the details of its internal probe into the compensation claim made by Maria Bailey.

The party has hired senior counsel David Kennedy to enquire into "all the facts" surrounding the legal suit.

Ms Bailey has dropped her case against the Dean Hotel over a July 2015 fall from a swing.

The TD has been subject to massive political and social media criticism since it was revealed she ran a 10km race three weeks after the fall.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has been under pressure from within his own party to sanction Ms Bailey.

However, in an attempt to take some of the heat out of the controversy he appointed the barrister to compile a report.

Mr Kennedy is understood to have already contacted the hotel with a view to getting its side of the story.

The hotel has CCTV footage of the incident, which it planned to use in its defence if the case had gone to court.

Ms Bailey has admitted to holding a bottle of beer in one hand and reaching for a friend's bottle of wine with the other when she fell.

Mr Kennedy is also expected to interview Culture Minister Josepha Madigan about what role, if any, she had in advising her colleague.

Ms Madigan worked with Madigan Solicitors at the time of the incident - but stepped away from the business, which is now owned by her brother, in June 2017. She has refused to say whether she worked on the Bailey case at any stage.

Ms Bailey has claimed she received legal advice that she had a "clear cut" case.

The Taoiseach expects Mr Kennedy to provide a broad picture of what happened in a report to be delivered directly to him within a fortnight.

However, a Fine Gael spokesperson declined to say whether those details would be made publicly available.

The huge public interest in the case has alarmed many of Ms Bailey's colleagues who believe it damaged them politically in the final days before the local elections.

On receipt of the report, Mr Varadkar will have a number of options. Sources say he can take a decision to act on the findings himself or if necessary refer it to the party's national executive.

In two interviews given by Ms Bailey since controversy flared, she claimed the most she was seeking was €7,000 for her medical expenses. However, this has not been confirmed by the hotel.

It has said it offered to pay Ms Bailey's certified medical expenses, but when she asked for what was described as "a substantial sum", the matter was handed over to its solicitors.

Ms Bailey was pursuing the case through the circuit court, where payouts can be up to €60,000.

Irish Independent

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