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Maria Bailey set to be kicked off FG election ticket as local members vote for 'urgent review' of strategy

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Maria Bailey leaving a Fine Gael meeting yesterday evening in Dún Laoghaire on a motion to review the party's constituency candidates for the next general election Picture: Mark Condren

Maria Bailey leaving a Fine Gael meeting yesterday evening in Dún Laoghaire on a motion to review the party's constituency candidates for the next general election Picture: Mark Condren

TD Maria Bailey Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

TD Maria Bailey Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

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Maria Bailey leaving a Fine Gael meeting yesterday evening in Dún Laoghaire on a motion to review the party's constituency candidates for the next general election Picture: Mark Condren

SWING-GATE TD Maria Bailey is set to be booted off Fine Gael’s election ticket.

Members of her Dun Laoghaire constituency have tonight voted for an “urgent review” of their election strategy.

While the motion didn’t directly call for Ms Bailey to be dropped, party headquarters will now be expected to take action.

The first-time deputy has been the focus of massive political and media attention since Independent.ie revealed last May that she was suing a Dublin hotel as a result of a fall from a swing.

Ms Bailey dropped the case after it was revealed she ran a 10km race three weeks after the incident in July 2015. It was claimed in court papers lodged on her behalf that she couldn’t run “at all” for three months.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe will now have to make the ultimate decision on her future.

He is Fine Gael’s director of organisation and will be its director of elections for the general election.

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Maria Bailey. Picture: Gerry Mooney

Maria Bailey. Picture: Gerry Mooney

Maria Bailey. Picture: Gerry Mooney

Senior party figures, including Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, have stressed over recent days that they would listen to the membership in Dun Laoghaire.

Speaking prior to tonight’s vote, Mr Donohoe echoed this point.

“Issues and difficulties have arisen in relation to Deputy Bailey. I also want to acknowledge that in all the work I have seen her to she has been a deeply conscientious and deeply hard working member of this Dail, but I know the members want to have a discussion about this tonight,” he said.

The Minister added: “While I wish somethings had happened differently in relation to the issues that Deputy Bailey was involved with, I have to also acknowledge that she is a very hard working and very competent member of the Dail.”

Ms Bailey is on the election alongside Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor and councillor Barry Ward.

However, many of her own colleagues believe her chances of retaining a seat are limited by the controversy.

Fine Gael hired a senior counsel to review her lawsuit against The Dean Hotel. He found her affidavit "overstated the impact of her injuries".

However, the Taoiseach decided not to remove the party whip from her. Instead she was forced to stand down as chairperson of the Oireachtas Housing Committee, a post that came with a €9,500 salary top-up.

Many senior figures in the party believe Mr Varadkar should have issued a heavier sanction rather than allow speculation about her future continue.

The motion tabled at tonight’s meeting called on Fine Gael's hierarchy to "urgently review" the election ticket and "make any changes necessary in order to improve our prospects in the forthcoming general election".

The party hopes to win two seats in the four-seat constituency.

In an unusual move, the membership were allowed to cast their vote by secret ballot.

Before the meeting began, members were given a stern warning about leaking information to the media.

They were told that anybody caught providing information or emails relating to the workings of the local constituency branch could be reported to the party’s disciplinary committee.

“The Fine Gael party has a book of rules, called the constitution, and every member of the party must obey the rules of the constitution,” the gathering was told.

Attendees were advised that the forum for tough discussions was meetings such as the one tonight rather than in public.

“Each and every” member was urged to provide no comment to journalists when asked about Fine Gael matters.

Online Editors