Monday 17 June 2019

Swing case TD Bailey is represented by Madigan family firm

But minister distances herself from the personal injuries case

Josepha Madigan campaigning for a Yes vote in the divorce referendum yesterday. Picture: Damien Eagers
Josepha Madigan campaigning for a Yes vote in the divorce referendum yesterday. Picture: Damien Eagers
Fine Gael TD Maria Bailey. Picture: Damien Eagers
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Fine Gael TD Maria Bailey is being represented by a law firm of owned by the family of party colleague Josepha Madigan in her case after falling from a swing.

But Culture Minister Ms Madigan yesterday moved to distance herself from the controversy over the fellow TD's legal suit.

A law firm run by her brother, Patrick, is representing Ms Bailey in the case.

The minister also worked with Madigans Solicitors, alongside other members of her family, before entering Leinster House as a Fine Gael TD.

It comes after the Irish Independent revealed that Fine Gael TD Maria Bailey is suing the Dean Hotel in Dublin over alleged injuries she received after she fell out of a swing.

The hotel is denying any liability.

Neither Ms Bailey or Fine Gael have so far commented on the case.

When asked about the case yesterday, Culture Minister Ms Madigan stressed that she is no longer involved with the company.

"I left the practice in 2017," she told the Irish Independent.

Asked whether the image of a fellow Government TD initiating legal proceedings after falling from a swing was a bad look for the Government, she replied: "I'm not going to comment on any individual cases."

The controversy over Ms Bailey's law suit has caused considerable disquiet within Fine Gael.

A number of the party's TDs have privately expressed concern that the high-profile case will damage the Government at a time when they are already under pressure over rising insurance costs for businesses.

Campaigners claim premiums are being pushed up by personal-injury claims.

Ms Bailey is taking the case alleging she suffered injury and long-term effects following the fall.

Her solicitors say that she suffered soft-tissue injuries and was diagnosed with concussion.

It is claimed that Ms Bailey can no longer sit or stand for long periods without experiencing pain or discomfort.

The Dún Laoghaire TD's solicitors claim she was sitting on a swing "unsupervised", having her photo taken by friends, "when she was caused to fall backwards".

The action lists 18 different particulars of alleged negligence or breach of duty by the hotel.

Holtend Limited, trading as the Dean Hotel, has lodged a full defence.

Ms Bailey's case was mentioned briefly before the County Registrar at Dublin Circuit Civil Court on Monday.

She was not present at the hearing but was back in the Dáil for its normal sitting yesterday.

The 43-year-old was first elected to the Dáil for the Dún Laoghaire constituency in 2016. She picked up 10,489 first-preference votes in the election that year.

Ms Bailey is chairperson of the Oireachtas Housing Committee and says her areas of political interest include planning, economic development, housing and health.

She is an ally of Tánaiste Simon Coveney and supported him in the Fine Gael leadership race, which he lost to Leo Varadkar.

A Fine Gael spokesperson yesterday declined to comment on the case.

Her Fine Gael colleague Ms Madigan specialised in family law, when she worked at the law firm.

She was elected as a TD for Dublin Rathdown in 2016 and made a rare jump from the backbenches to Cabinet in November 2017.

She is an increasingly influential figure within the Government and played a key role in the decision to hold Friday's referendum on divorce.

On its website, Madigans Solicitors is described as "one of Ireland's most respected law firms", which has been trading for more than 40 years.

Irish Independent

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