Taoiseach disputes Maria Bailey’s claim about her deselection

TD says she was not told that basis of decision relied on proposal from party leader

Maria Bailey has been in the spotlight following the negative publicity surrounding her decision to pursue, and later withdraw, a personal injuries claim over a fall from a swing in Dublin’s Dean Hotel. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Maria Bailey has been in the spotlight following the negative publicity surrounding her decision to pursue, and later withdraw, a personal injuries claim over a fall from a swing in Dublin’s Dean Hotel. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has disputed a claim by Maria Bailey that no review was carried out of Fine Gael’s slate of candidates in Dún Laoghaire before she was removed from the party from the general election ticket.

Ms Bailey on Wednesday night told a meeting of the party’s TDs and senators that the party needs to improve its crisis management.

She also said that the party needed to provide support for members who were the victim of “social media onslaughts”.

It emerged earlier that Ms Bailey has written to Fine Gael members in her constituency querying aspects of the process which saw her deselected on the recommendation of Mr Varadkar. The move was last week approved by the party’s executive council.

The move followed a meeting of Dún Laoghaire Fine Gael members on Halloween night which passed a motion calling for the party’s election ticket in the constituency to be reviewed.

The motion read: “The Dún Laoghaire Constituency Executive calls on Fine Gael Executive Council to urgently review the ticket for the general election and to make any changes necessary in order to improve our prospects in the forthcoming general election.”

While the motion made no specific reference to Ms Bailey, it was widely seen as an effort to remove her from the ticket. Ms Bailey has been involved in controversy since earlier this year over a personal injuries claim made against a Dublin hotel.

Mr Varadkar insisted on Wednesday that a review had been carried out and it had been done with urgency.

“It was done by me and by the director of organisation (Paschal Donohoe) and by the general secretary (Tom Curran),” he told reporters in Zagreb, Croatia.

Polling data

Asked what the review entailed, he said: “It involved reviewing what our best chance of holding two seats in Dún Laoghaire was. Obviously we had polling data as well that was done a few weeks ago, which confirmed the decision we made.”

“Our constitution is very clear. Our members voting at convention decide who our candidates are. Our executive council has the power to delete or add candidates based on my recommendation,” he said.

Ms Bailey’s letter to members is dated from last Monday and references a meeting she held with Mr Donohoe and Mr Curran in advance of the executive council meeting.

“At about 5pm, on November 14th, the evening of the Executive Council’s meeting, I received a copy of the letter from An Taoiseach to the chair of the Executive Council stating that as party leader and under the provisions of Rule 44A(v) of the Fine Gael Constitution and Rules, he was proposing that the Executive Council delete me as a candidate for the next General Election in the Constituency of Dun Laoghaire,” the letter says.

“He continued: ‘I make this proposal because in my judgement, the best interests of the party are served by deleting Maria Bailey TD as a candidate for the next general election’. There were no reasons given for this judgement.

Basis

“At no time before I attended the Executive Council was I told by either Paschal Donohoe or Tom Curran that the basis of my deselection had been changed from the constituency motion to solely that of the Taoiseach’s proposal.

“I am not aware whether the review requested by the constituency was in fact carried out by the Executive Council. If such a review was conducted, I was not advised of any conclusions or the reasons for any such conclusions.

“I was not afforded any opportunity to address the Executive Council on the conclusions of any such review by them. As stated, the Executive Council told me that the only matter before them was the proposal from the Taoiseach, so I must conclude that no review was carried out by them.

“I appreciate that this has been a difficult time for you also, but it is very important to me that the record be corrected and that this be communicated to all members.”

A spokesman for the Taoiseach later said: “A review of the Dún Laoghaire ticket was conducted following the motion from members.

“The constituency Election Committee was consulted. All three candidates were offered meetings with the general secretary and the director of elections as part of the review.

“Following that the party leader made a recommendation to the executive.”