Call for poll to determine if Bailey should run for re-election
Louth FG TD says he does not believe Maria Bailey should stand for re-election for party
Maria Bailey: Fine Gael councillor John Kennedy said she should analyse what the “strengths and weaknesses are”. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill
Fine Gael should employ pollsters to determine if Maria Bailey should run for re-election following her compensation claim controversy, Fine Gael councillors in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown have said.
Louth Fine Gael TD Fergus O’Dowd said on Monday that he does not believe Maria Bailey should stand for re-election for the party.
His comment on local radio come after the Dún Laoghaire TD was stripped of the role as chair of the Oireachtas Housing Committee by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar last week over her personal injury claim against the Dean Hotel. However, Ms Bailey did not lose the Fine Gael party whip, and would be free to run for the party in the next general election.
Fine Gael councillor John Kennedy said he did not support the idea of politicians being kicked out of politics over one mistake. He said the party should look at engaging private or commercial polling, and Ms Bailey should analyse what the “strengths and weaknesses are”.
Less than two Dáil seats in the area would not be acceptable to the party, Mr Kennedy said.
Another local councillor who did not wish to be named agreed that polling could be carried out, while others criticised media coverage of the controversy.
Mr Kennedy, who was appointed on the council to succeed Josepha Madigan following her election to the Dáil, pointed out that it was a “sensitive” time for Ms Bailey given the recent loss of her father.
“You have a situation where people are trying to decide from a party perspective what the situation should be, but it is also up to the voter ultimately if they want to renew that mandate. Maria still has a mandate from the last general election.”
He admitted “it is a difficult situation, and it would have been preferable if it did not happen”.
“But there has been a viewpoint that it affected the party’s local election result, and it is my view that this did not happen; I do not believe it had any bearing on the result. There are people who narrowly lost out who might be looking at things to pin it on.”
Speaking on the Michael Reade show on local radio station LmFm on Monday, Mr O’Dowd said he personally would not feel comfortable with Ms Bailey running for the party following the “swing-gate” controversy.
“People are deeply concerned that what Maria Bailey did was wrong, and I think that’s the reality for her. There are indications, certainly in the press, that her own party in Dún Laoghaire are saying that she shouldn’t stand; they want her removed.
“Would I prefer that she didn’t stand? I would prefer that she didn’t stand of course, but I can’t influence that, but having said that the badge that she wears is not one that I am happy with.”