Thursday 22 August 2019

Fine Gael to launch internal review into Maria Bailey swing case

Maria Bailey TD. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Maria Bailey TD. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Kevin Doyle and Shane Phelan

FINE Gael is to appoint a senior counsel to carry out an “internal review” into Maria Bailey’s compensation claim.

The TD met with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar today and agreed to participate fully with the review.

Senior Counsel David Kennedy will be tasked with trying “to establish all facts” around the case.

Independent.ie has also learned that the case against The Dean Hotel was formally withdrawn this morning.

A note on the court file said: “The plaintiff has wholly discontinued this action.”

It remains to be seen if lawyers for the hotel, where the incident occurred in July 2015, will go to court to seek an order for their outstanding costs.

However, the legal bill is not expected to be large as the case was only in a preliminary stage when it was abandoned.

Mr Varadkar met with his backbench deputy shortly after 2pm today. He informed TDs and senators of the outcome at a private party meeting tonight.

A spokesperson for the Taoiseach was not in a position to provide a time-frame for when Mr Kennedy will be expected to report back.

Ms Bailey did not attend the Dáil and was absent from the Oireachtas Housing Committee, which she normally chairs.

With the controversy now entering its eleventh day, there is still substantial anger within Fine Gael. Privately some TDs have expressed sympathy for Ms Bailey on the basis that she has been subjected to a torrent of online abuse.

In an astonishing appearance on RTÉ’s ‘Today with Sean O’Rourke’ last Monday, Ms Bailey criticised the reporting of the case over the past week and attempted to justify her action against the hotel.

She described the media as “judge, jury and executioner”, claimed her privacy had been invaded and that “humanity has been crossed”.

As part of a week long investigation into the claim, the Irish Independent revealed last Tuesday that Ms Bailey was claiming the hotel was negligent because the swing was “unsupervised” and there were no signs to instruct patrons how to safely use it.

We then reported how she completed a 10km race three weeks after the incident.

Court papers lodged by her solicitors claimed she was unable to run “at all” for three months.

Ms Bailey insisted she only wanted her medical expenses of between €6,000 and €7,000 paid and was not looking for any extra damages.

This is 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. The circuit court, where she took the case, can award up to €60,000 in personal injury matters.

CCTV was a key factor in the hotel’s decision to defend the claim. In defence papers, it alleged Ms Bailey had items in each hand, restricting her ability to balance or hold rope grips properly.

On radio, Ms Bailey confirmed that she had a beer in her hand and that she was reaching for her friend’s bottle of wine when she fell from the swing.

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