Tuesday 23 July 2019

Fine Gael candidates will have to declare convictions or upcoming court cases in wake of Bailey swing fall claim - Varadkar

Maria Bailey. Picture; Gerry Mooney
Maria Bailey. Picture; Gerry Mooney
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Maria Bailey TD at the Gibson for the All Ireland Winners Banquet in 2017

Gabija Gataveckaite

FINE Gael candidates will now have to declare if they have a criminal conviction or forthcoming court cases in the wake of Deputy Maria Bailey’s controversial swing fall compensation claim case.

The Dún Laoghaire TD found herself at the center of a political storm after she took out a personal injuries claim against Dublin's Dean Hotel after falling off one of their swings in July 2015.

Court papers lodged on her behalf suggested the swing should have been supervised.

Speaking on the Marian Finucane programme on RTÉ this morning, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar explained in a wide-ranging interview that the controversy was “not a plus” for the party when the country took to the polls last month.

“We are going to make it a requirement now for all candidates to make us aware of previous convictions or court cases they may be getting involved in,” he said.

“We can’t just treat these things as private matters anymore because they do have an impact on the rest of the party,” he added.

He also went on to say that this impact is then felt by other party members.

“Many of whom shouldn’t bear the consequences of this,” he said.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Maria Bailey TD at the Gibson for the All Ireland Winners Banquet in 2017
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Maria Bailey TD at the Gibson for the All Ireland Winners Banquet in 2017

This comes in the fallout of the party facing backlash as a result of the legal case pursued by the TD.

In defence papers, it was alleged Ms Bailey had items in each hand, restricting her ability to balance or hold the swing's rope grips properly.

She insisted she only wanted her medical expenses of between €6,000 and €7,000 paid, despite the fact her endorsement of claim stated she was seeking damages for personal injury, loss, damage and inconvenience in addition to her medical costs.

Ms Bailey later withdrew the claim against the hotel.

Mr Varadkar stated that he felt sorry for the Dún Laoghaire TD and said that she is ‘one of the better ones’.

“I felt really bad for her,” he said.

“Maria Bailey is a human being. She is a mother, she’s a colleague, she’s a hard working TD and she’s one of the more competent, one of the better ones, one of the up and coming ones, in my view,” he said.

Speaking of the TD’s now infamous interview on the Sean O’Rourke show, he said that it was ‘ill-advised’.

“I thought she did herself harm and I felt really bad for her,” he added.

He added that a ‘frenzy’ followed the interview on social media.

“The stuff on social media was horrible,” he said.

“I thought some of it was overboard but it doesn’t take away from the fact that behind that there was a real story, in fairness to the journalists who reported it. It wasn’t made up and what we’re doing now is an investigation in the party to find out what the full facts of this are,” he said,

In terms of possible sanctions that may be imposed on Ms Bailey following an investigation in Fine Gael, Mr Varadkar said that these will depend on the investigation report.

“That will depend on the report and there’s a scale of possible options there but I don’t want to be talking about it on the radio before I’ve a chance to speak about it,” he said.

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