Tuesday 15 October 2019

Maria Bailey back at work as Fine Gael awaits review of swing claim

Day at the office: Maria Bailey in the grounds of Leinster House yesterday after chairing a Dáil Housing Committee meeting. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Day at the office: Maria Bailey in the grounds of Leinster House yesterday after chairing a Dáil Housing Committee meeting. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Wayne O'Connor and Kevin Doyle

Fine Gael TD Maria Bailey has returned as chairperson of the Oireachtas Housing Committee, while the party awaits the outcome of an internal review into a personal injuries claim she took against a hotel.

The Dún Laoghaire representative chaired the committee yesterday, as Focus Ireland and the Ombudsman for Children outlined the impact that homelessness is having.

Ms Bailey's colleague Alan Farrell, who has also been at the centre of a compensation controversy, took up a similarly prominent role in Leinster House yesterday as acting chair of the Dáil.

Fine Gael has faced a backlash as a result of legal cases pursued by the two TDs.

Ms Bailey has now dropped her compensation claim against the Dean Hotel in Dublin, which was based on an incident in July 2015 when she fell from a swing.

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

It was also claimed she was unable to run "at all" for three months after the fall -but the Irish Independent previously revealed she ran a 10km race after three weeks.

A number of ministers criticised the TD for making the claim, saying the controversy affected Fine Gael candidates in the local elections.

Two weeks ago, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar tasked a barrister with establishing all the facts around the case. It was anticipated that senior counsel David Kennedy would have completed his report by yesterday, but Mr Varadkar said it was not yet ready.

Asked whether he would publish it, the Taoiseach said: "I'll have to see it first. There is an issue of due process here. This is an internal party inquiry, not a public inquiry. I'd have to see it first and I haven't yet."

Ms Bailey has insisted she wanted only 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.

Mr Farrell's case related to a car accident in which he suffered a whiplash injury in April 2015.

He brought a personal injuries claim for up to €15,000 against Hertz Rent-A-Car after the 8kmh collision.

The Dublin-Fingal TD was awarded €2,500 for his injuries, but a judge said there was "little or no notation to back up a claim of significant whiplash".

The TD last week defended taking the case, saying: "Liability for the accident was admitted and I am satisfied that the matter is concluded."

It recently emerged that Mr Farrell had also sought €880 for repairs to his car - but later dropped a claim for material damage.

Irish Independent

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