Tuesday 22 October 2019

Fine Gael probe into Bailey swing row set to name alleged leaker

Maria Bailey. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Maria Bailey. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

The internal Fine Gael investigation into Maria Bailey's personal injury claim against a Dublin hotel will report on where it believes "leaked" legal papers relating to the controversial case were obtained.

It is understood that barrister David Kennedy, who is heading the investigation, is expected to "draw conclusions" on where he believes court documents may have been obtained.

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A Fine Gael source said Mr Kennedy planned to suggest where he believes the Irish Independent acquired court documents which revealed Ms Bailey's case included a complaint that the swing she fell from while holding a bottle of beer was unsupervised.

"It is a fact that pleadings were leaked and we don't know by whom or to whom, but David will probably draw a conclusion on that," the source claimed.

The well-placed source confirmed that the investigation, which will not be completed for another fortnight, has been seeking to establish how Ms Bailey's personal injury claim got into the public domain.

The Dun Laoghaire Rathdown TD refused to rule out suggestions the story was leaked by one of her own party members during her infamous interview with Sean O'Rourke on RTE Radio One.

She claimed she had been subjected to an "orchestrated" attack which aimed to cause "maximum damage".

During the interview, which infuriated many of her parliamentary colleagues, Ms Bailey refused to answer questions over how she fell from the swing or why she felt it should been supervised by hotel staff. After the interview, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced the establishment of an internal Fine Gael inquiry into the controversy.

Mr Varadkar said the investigation headed by Mr Kennedy would "establish all the facts" surrounding the case which he admitted damaged the party during the recent local election campaign.

Yesterday, it emerged that Mr Kennedy had written directly to the Irish Independent asking if it would reveal how it became aware of the case and obtained court documents.

The newspaper said it would not be co-operating with an internal Fine Gael investigation.

On Twitter, Independent Newspapers Editor-in-Chief Fionnan Sheahan described the request as "disturbing" and said he hoped it would be "withdrawn swiftly" by Fine Gael. The party has not commented on why the review is focusing on the source of the story.

Ms Bailey will be given an opportunity to respond to Mr Kennedy's report's findings before it is forwarded to the Taoiseach for his consideration.

Mr Varadkar has refused to say if he will take action against Ms Bailey if negative findings are made against her.

However, he has introduced new party rules which will require all Fine Gael politicians to reveal if they have a forthcoming court case or if they were involved in previous legal actions.

During her infamous radio interview Ms Bailey said she was told by her legal team that she had a "clear-cut" case against the Dean Hotel after she fell from a swing.

The first-time TD was being represented by Madigans Solicitors which is the former practice of Culture Minister Josepha Madigan.

Ms Madigan's brother currently runs the legal firm which was established by her father.

Sources close to the minister have said the firm did not tell Ms Bailey she had a "clear-cut" case.

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