Saturday 21 September 2019

No public interest in publishing the Bailey report, FG leader insists


Probe: Fine Gael's Maria Bailey has withdrawn her claim over a fall from a swing. Photo: Tom Burke
Probe: Fine Gael's Maria Bailey has withdrawn her claim over a fall from a swing. Photo: Tom Burke

Hugh O'Connell, Cormac McQuinn and Philip Ryan

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is standing by his decision that the Fine Gael investigation into Maria Bailey's personal injury case won't be published - saying he doesn't think there's a public interest reason to do so.

While there are mixed views within Fine Gael on whether the report by senior counsel David Kennedy should be released, the Taoiseach has said: "It's never been our practice to publish such reports."

Senior counsel David Kennedy has looked into the claim
Senior counsel David Kennedy has looked into the claim

The investigation into Ms Bailey's compensation claim is being finalised and is understood to make a number of findings and recommendations in relation to Ms Bailey's now withdrawn claim against the Dean Hotel over a fall from a swing.

Revelations about Ms Bailey's case amid public debate over claims culture and insurance reform caused controversy for Fine Gael in the final days of the local election campaign.

There are voices within the party saying that Mr Kennedy's report should be published. One minister said: "Refusing to publish the report will create a clamour and enough people will have it so it will eventually leak."

They also said they believed the Taoiseach "got this wrong" and the matter should have been referred to a Fine Gael disciplinary committee "rather than wedding himself to the investigation by a senior counsel. The report is intrinsically linked to him now".

Another source said the report "will be leaked either way so I don't think there's much virtue to be made of saying it shouldn't be published".

Others in the party agreed with Mr Varadkar's position, with one TD saying: "It's an internal document so I don't think it should be published."

During the week, Labour leader Brendan Howlin said Mr Kennedy's report should "of course" be published, adding: "It's a matter of public controversy and we need to know exactly what they've found out about it."

Mr Varadkar last night said he hadn't received the report yet and it was too early to say whether there would be any legal issues in publishing it.

But he added: "It's never been the practice for a political party carrying out an internal investigation."

He said it was not a public inquiry funded by public money and "it's never been our practice to publish such reports nor I think has it been the practice of any other political party".

"I imagine even employers, such as the Independent group, probably doesn't publish internal reports about staff and so on. So I don't think there should be anything unusual about that." Asked if it would not be worthwhile to publish given the level of scrutiny of the issue and the public interest, Mr Varadkar replied: "I don't believe so, but I haven't read it or received it so I'll have to make that decision."

Read more: FG's probe into Bailey swing claim nears end - and includes dossier of coverage by media

Read more: Varadkar defends hunt for source of Bailey 'leaks' as report to stay secret

Read more: Pressure mounting on Fine Gael to drop its probe into Bailey 'leak'

Irish Independent

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