'Nobody was drunk... I just wanted my €7k medical bill paid - Maria Bailey TD on swing fall
Fine Gael TD withdraws controversial personal injuries case against hotel after fall from swing, writes Liam Collins
Fine Gael TD Maria Bailey has dramatically instructed her solicitors to withdraw legal proceedings against Dublin hotel The Dean, over a fall from a swing in which she insists she was seriously injured.
"I had nothing to hide. I had an accident, I was hurt and I had medical bills as a result of the accident," she told the Sunday Independent exclusively yesterday.
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"The legal proceedings were initiated by me after lengthy and unsatisfactory correspondence with the hotel, and because these injuries continue to cause me immense discomfort," she said.
But the Dun Laoghaire TD has decided to withdraw the case because "the past week has been very difficult for my family" and a distraction from her political work.
She now wants to "draw a line in the sand" on the issue and concentrate on representing her constituency in the Dail.
"As far as I am concerned this matter is now closed," she said.
The Dean denies negligence and says that if injury was suffered this was due to Ms Bailey's own negligence and that she was holding items in both hands when she fell from the swing, restricting her ability to balance and preventing here from holding rope grips properly.
Talking openly for the first time about the event, which came to public attention after the Irish Independent broke the story last Monday, Ms Bailey said she visited the newly opened hotel on Harcourt Street, Dublin, on July 10, 2015. The group of five friends had a glass of wine before getting the Luas into town and about 9pm the party went to the top floor, where there are swings hanging in an area leading to the restaurant.
She sat on a swing which she says was polished wood and was posing for a photograph holding "somebody's" bottle when she fell.
"I was holding somebody's bottle. The bottom line is I was injured, nobody was drunk, nobody was messing. We had one glass of wine before going out and we had just one glass at the hotel. I was seriously hurt and I was mortified," she said yesterday.
She says that the following morning she was in "excruciating pain and scared, it was like a knife was coming out of my back".
At the Beacon Hospital she says she was treated for concussion, a swollen jaw and soft-tissue injuries.
On the night, the hotel staff had been pleasant and given her plasters. She had completed an incident report form before leaving the hotel and some time later met a manager and found him pleasant to deal with, telling her to send them the bills and the hotel would deal with it.
"I spent a year-and-a-half contacting the hotel trying to clear the medical invoices. They didn't respond, the first response we had from them was looking for [legal] discovery. We have no information from them and they have no information from us.
"I am a citizen and I am entitled to the same due process in law as everybody else.
"I was fully aware that this would come into the public domain if it came to court and a judge had to adjudicate on it.
"All I was looking for was my medical expenses, which were about €7,000. I was not looking for compensation or loss of earnings, I never said I didn't have the use of my legs - my medical advice was to keep moving."
When contacted by the Sunday Independent, Press Up Management, owners of The Dean, declined to comment on specific aspects of the case. However they did say that they had offered to pay Ms Bailey's certified medical expenses - but when she asked for what was described as "a substantial sum" the matter was handed over to its lawyers.
They added that the hotel did not have any further engagement with her.
Ms Bailey insists she has suffered from cluster migraine, a particularly severe form of pain, since she was a child and follows a careful fitness regime involving running and diet to maintain a healthy lifestyle and she continued to maintain that lifestyle after the fall.
"Nobody questioned that I was hurt... I was the one in pain," she said yesterday. "I was advised that I would have the same due process [legal rights] as everybody else, the same entitlements to the justice system as everybody else. I have done nothing wrong here."
She says she was also made aware of the public repercussions and was asked if it was "worth the hassle" - but she says that she only wanted her medical bills paid "and I didn't think I had anything to fear".
The story of her legal action came at a particularly sensitive time in the middle of the European and local elections.
"I have instructed my solicitor to immediately withdraw these legal proceedings to ensure that the focus is not on me, but on the issues that matter to the people in my constituency," the TD said yesterday.
"I also want to thank the people in my constituency for the messages of support I have received and for their continued kindness to me and my family throughout this difficult period."
The Fine Gael TD said she was too upset to attend today's election count but has continued to attend to her duties in the Dail and will be in her office dealing with political business this week.
"I love what I do, I love my job," said the mother of two. "I have a vision and I want to keep my focus on that."