Monday 19 August 2019

'We all know someone who got compo for an injury' - ex-FG candidate defends Bailey

‘Blood sport’: Stephanie Regan has hit out at the level of criticism of Maria Bailey.
PHOTO: STEVE HUMPHREYS
‘Blood sport’: Stephanie Regan has hit out at the level of criticism of Maria Bailey. PHOTO: STEVE HUMPHREYS
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

A former Fine Gael election candidate has leaped to the defence of Maria Bailey, claiming everyone knows a family member or friend who has lodged a compensation claim.

Stephanie Regan, who ran on the party ticket alongside Minister Richard Bruton in 2016, believes the "lampooning" of Ms Bailey has gone too far.

Swing fall: Maria Bailey has dropped her compensation claim. Photo: Tom Burke
Swing fall: Maria Bailey has dropped her compensation claim. Photo: Tom Burke

She described the criticism of the Dún Laoghaire representative as a "blood sport".

Ms Bailey has dropped her case against the Dean Hotel over a July 2015 fall from a swing.

The TD has been the subject of massive political and social media criticism for taking the case at a time when the Government is under pressure over the rising costs of insurance.

A string of ministers including Paschal Donohoe, Simon Harris, Heather Humphreys and Charlie Flanagan have publicly criticised their colleague over the past fortnight.

But Ms Regan, who left Fine Gael over a dispute last year, has now called for an end to the commentary.

"She was wrong. Let's step up fixing the system. Is there one person who does not know a family member or friend who got compo for a slip, a fall or a whiplash?" the clinical psychotherapist asked on social media.

Maria Bailey fell from a swing
Maria Bailey fell from a swing

She added: "It was always wrong. Now let's move on."

Fine Gael has recruited barrister David Kennedy to investigate all of the facts around Ms Bailey's case.

The party is unlikely to welcome the comments from Ms Regan, who is a sister of former Fine Gael senator Eugene Regan.

It will be at least another 10 days before Mr Kennedy will be in a position to deliver his review to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. At that point, he will have to decide whether the TD should be sanctioned. Senior party figures are furious, with Mr Varadkar admitting the controversy caused "reputational damage" in the build-up to the local elections.

The Irish Independent revealed that Ms Bailey had taken part in a 10km race just three weeks after the incident.

Her legal papers claimed she was unable to run "at all" for three months.

Among the most critical was Business Minister Ms Humphreys, who said: "People need to have some common sense and they need to be responsible for their own personal safety. So, if you trip or you fall, you have to ask yourself how it happened. And more often than not, the reason is because of your own carelessness."

Ms Bailey stopped using social media as a result of the "incredible" abuse she experienced. "The distress, the abuse, I had to come off all social media," she said.

Mr Kennedy is understood to have already contacted the hotel with a view to getting its side of the story.

The hotel has CCTV footage of the incident, which it planned to use in its defence if the case had gone to court.

Ms Bailey has admitted to holding a bottle of beer in one hand and reaching for a friend's bottle of wine with the other when she fell.

Read more here: Madigan's family law firm prides itself as 'one of the most respected'

Counsel to probe why Bailey sought higher costs

Taoiseach briefed on letter from Bailey to hotel before launching internal probe 

Irish Independent

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