Thursday 19 September 2019

Swing-gate: Justice Minister refuses to back Maria Bailey to run in next general election

Maria Bailey. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Maria Bailey. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Hugh O'Connell

Hugh O'Connell

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan has refused to back Fine Gael TD Maria Bailey to run for the party in the next general election.

Ms Bailey has faced growing calls from within Fine Gael not to run for re-election in Dún Laoghaire following the swing-gate controversy.

Mr Flanagan is the first Cabinet minister to comment on Ms Bailey's re-election bid which he repeatedly declined to endorse in an interview with the Irish Independent.

The Laois TD said Ms Bailey, who was sacked as chair of the Oireachtas Housing Committee last month, had paid a "hefty price" for the controversy over her now-withdrawn personal injury claim against a Dublin hotel for falling off a swing in 2015.

"I think the Maria Bailey case was unfortunate. I acknowledge that Maria Bailey has made some serious errors of judgment and I think she has paid for that by way of the sanction," he said.

But Mr Flanagan refused repeatedly to be drawn on whether Ms Bailey should be allowed run again.

"I am not part of an investigative process, I am not a member of the national executive, I was for in excess of 15 years.

"I am a former party chief whip, I am a former party chairman, I am a player on the team, I am not a selector. I don't decide," he said.

It was a matter for the local constituency organisation and Fine Gael's national executive whether Ms Bailey should be allowed to run, he said. But asked for his personal view, Mr Flanagan said: "I don't have a view on other constituencies. I go before my own constituency convention."

Irish Independent

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