Monday 16 September 2019

Minister Josepha Madigan will face growing pressure to answer questions on Maria Bailey 'swing-gate' case

Josepha Madigan. Picture: Tony Gavin
Josepha Madigan. Picture: Tony Gavin
Maria Bailey (Niall Carson/PA)
Leo Varadkar
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

It's less than a week since Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he was satisfied that Culture Minister Josepha Madigan had no questions to answer over the Maria Bailey personal injury claim.

However, the statement released by Fine Gael on the findings for the probe it commissioned into the whole saga raises as many questions as it answers in relation to Ms Madigan’s involvement.

The Culture Minister was dragged into the controversy over Ms Bailey’s case because her family’s law firm, Madigans Solicitors represented her in the now dropped action against the Dean Hotel.

Ms Bailey took the case after sustaining injuries when she fell from a swing in Dublin’s Dean Hotel while on a night out in July 2015.

Ms Madigan and Ms Bailey were both serving together on Dún Laoighaire Rathdown County Council at the time.

They were first elected to the Dáil in 2016.

Maria Bailey (Niall Carson/PA)

Ms Madigan left Madigans Solictiors in 2017, but it has been confirmed that she was involved in advising Ms Bailey in the early stages of the claim.

Mr Varadkar asked barrister David Kennedy to establish "all the facts" surrounding Ms Bailey's legal action.

The Taoiseach has taken the decision not to publish the report, but released a statement on its findings tonight.

He says that the probe found that Ms Madigan gave Ms Bailey initial legal advice and guidance.

She also assisted Ms Bailey in an application to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB).

Mr Varadkar says: “This was a preliminary step which often results in amicable resolution, but the hotel did not engage with the PIAB.”

He adds: “Minister Madigan did not deal with the subsequent legal proceedings.

“These were dealt with by another solicitor in the firm, who acted on Deputy Bailey’s instructions.”

Ms Madigan has refused to comment on her involvement since the revelations about Ms Bailey’s case were first reported on in May.

She has repeatedly cited “client-solicitor confidentiality”.

After the completion of Mr Kennedy’s report in recent weeks she has said she was “very satisfied” with what it says about her.

Leo Varadkar

Mr Varadkar may also be satisfied that Ms Madigan has no questions to answer.

But there are some questions that remain unanswered for the general public:

• When did she first learn of the incident in the Dean Hotel from Ms Bailey?

• Did she advise Ms Bailey to proceed with the case in the first place?

• Did she offer her family’s law firm as legal representatives or was she approached by Ms Bailey and asked to take on the case?

• Precisely what was the nature of this “initial legal advice” provided by Ms Madigan to Ms Bailey?

• Did Ms Madigan advise Ms Bailey at any point that she should not proceed with a claim?

• Was she among Ms Bailey's legal advisers that raised concerns that a finding of contributory negligence against Ms Bailey was likely and told her so?

• Did Ms Madigan raise concerns about the case with Ms Bailey at any point, even in the early stages during the PIAB application?

• She may not have dealt with the subsequent legal proceedings, but did she advise Ms Bailey to take the matter to the Circuit Court once the hotel did not engage with the PIAB?

Ms Madigan may well have been asked all of these questions and more as part of Mr Kennedy’s investigation.

In the absence of the report being published Ms Madigan will be under growing pressure to provide the answers to the public as well.

READ MORE: Maria Bailey to lose €9,500 Oireachtas role as Taoiseach demotes TD following 'swing-gate' controversy

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