Josepha Madigan needs to clarify her involvement in Maria Bailey case, says Martin

Fianna Fáil leader also claims report on Bailey case is ‘inconsistent’

Speaking outside the MacGill Summer School in Glenties, Co Donegal, Micheál Martin said the degree of Josepha Madigan’s involvement in the Maria Bailey case ‘should be fully transparent and should be clarified’. File photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

Speaking outside the MacGill Summer School in Glenties, Co Donegal, Micheál Martin said the degree of Josepha Madigan’s involvement in the Maria Bailey case ‘should be fully transparent and should be clarified’. File photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

 

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has called on Josepha Madigan to clarify her involvement in the Maria Bailey case, saying “a fair degree of murkiness” surrounds the Minister’s role in the controversy.

In a statement on Tuesday , Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said Minister for Culture Josepha Madigan gave “initial legal advice, guidance and assisted Deputy Bailey with her Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) application”. Ms Madigan practised as a solicitor until 2017.

Ms Madigan did not deal with the subsequent legal proceedings which were dealt with “by another solicitor in the firm who acted on Deputy Bailey’s instructions”.

While Ms Madigan has previously said that she welcomed the findings of the report as it pertained to her, Mr Martin’s comments may re-ignite the political controversy .

Speaking outside the MacGill Summer School in Glenties, Co Donegal, Mr Martin said “I think there has been a fair degree of murkiness about that. The degree of Josepha Madigan’s involvement should be fully transparent and should be clarified,” he said.

Mr Martin continued: “I think the Minister needs to make a full, comprehensive statement in relation to that. At the moment we’re being told that the report says she hadn’t an involvement, but then we’re told she was involved in the initial documentation. What does that mean? Did she advise Maria Bailey to take the case? She needs to answer the basic question: did she or did she not advise in the early stages Maria Bailey to take the case.”

Report

Mr Varadkar, yesterday removed Maria Bailey as chair of the Oireachtas Housing Committee.

The move comes on foot of an internal party report undertaken by David Kennedy SC into the Dun Laoghaire TD’s claim against The Dean hotel on Dublin’s Harcourt Street for falling off a swing in 2015.

The Taoiseach did not publish the report , but said “there have been inconsistencies in Deputy Bailey’s account of events to me and the media that I cannot reconcile”.

He said Ms Bailey made “numerous errors of judgement in her handling of this matter from the outset, during and even after she’d withdrawn the case”.

However, he held back from removing the party whip from the Dun Laoghaire TD, saying that the case and the subsequent media fallout had a “devastating effect” on her family.

Mr Martin also criticised the report, saying there is an “inconsistency” in it. “If he’s saying (there is) nothing fraudulent, clearly something went wrong if she is being demoted.”

He attacked the Government’s record on insurance reform, saying that Fine Gael “has been very lax in terms of dealing with the insurance issue”.

“Costs have soared. The most recent example of that is the leisure industry which is now going through a crisis in terms of its inability to get insurance cover.”

“The Maria Bailey case highlighted and illustrated that to a large extent, and the degree of discontent in terms of how people out there are dealing with the realities of high levels of insurance costs and contrasting that with politicians pursuing claims of this nature.”

Border poll

Earlier at the summer school, the former Brexit spokesperson for the SDLP said calls for a border poll were “premature”.

Clare Hanna MLA said “calls now for a border poll are like removing the scaffolding before the structures are built”. She called for greater integration between North and South on economic development, third level education and transport to be prioritised before any vote is put on the political agenda.

Ms Hanna said foreign direct investment should be pursued on an all-island basis, while politicians needed to “articulate positive, progressive alternatives to the status quo, for what a new Ireland could look, feel and actually be in the future, and how it can deliver greater social and economic cohesion for each of us and our families”.

The border poll should be the last, and not first, piece of the jigsaw,” she said. Ms Hanna argued that a rushed vote on reunification, if successful, would risk repeating the mistakes of the past by trapping a large and unhappy minority in a political structure which they do not support.