Saturday 19 October 2019

Minister defends Fine Gael TD's right to take personal injury action against Dublin hotel

Regina Doherty
Regina Doherty

Cormac McQuinn Political Correspondent

A SENIOR minister has defended Fine Gael TD Maria Bailey's right to take a personal injury action against a Dublin hotel.

Regina Doherty said: “Every individual has a right to take a case.”

Her remarks came after Independent Senator Michael McDowell warned the government's efforts to tackle claims culture cannot be taken seriously when a Fine Gael TD is taking a case over falling off a swing.

Ms Doherty insisted the government is “incredibly serious” in its efforts in the area while saying she would not comment on any particular case.

But asked directly if she would defend Ms Bailey's right to take a cases she replied: “Every individual has a right to take a case.”

In response to Mr McDowell's remarks Ms Doherty pointed out that the Cabinet agreed an amendment yesterday to set up a committee of judges to set guidelines for public injury pay-outs.

Fine Gael's Maria Bailey. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Fine Gael's Maria Bailey. Photo: Steve Humphreys

“We don't want to stop anybody from going to court and making a claim if they feel that they have a right to do so but what we absolutely cannot have and tolerate is exorbitant claims being given to people off the back of previous records of exorbitant claims that are putting people out of business.

“We can't have that.”

“I said to you we need to balance the rights of individuals to go to court. Every single citizen in this country has the right to go to court if that's what they want to do. Nobody. And I don't think anyone here is suggesting that we'd want to take that away.”

Mr McDowell highlighted the controversy surrounding Ms Bailey’s personal-injury action against the Dean Hotel in the Seanad.

She claims she suffered injuries to her head, back and hip when she fell from a swing inside the premises on Dublin’s Harcourt Street.

The hotel is denying any liability.

It comes at a time when there is sharp political focus on personal injuries payouts in the courts, a matter that barrister Mr McDowell chose to highlight last night.

He questioned the proposition that “there should be supervisors for swings when adults are using them and that it’s a matter of civil liability if there isn’t”.

“We live in a strange world where civil liability can exist in such circumstances,” Mr McDowell added.

“But who knows, maybe we’re only hearing a portion of the evidence.

“If the Government is serious about driving down the claims culture, we cannot stand idly by when adults lose their seat with two objects, one in each hand and fall off a swing and then claim that there should have been a supervisor looking after them.”

He added: “Especially when it comes from somebody who has so much public influence and clearly influence over Government policy in these matters.”

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