Maria Bailey absent for key Oireachtas meeting

Fine Gael TD withdraws personal injury case against Dean hotel but fallout continues

 Maria Bailey is the head of the Oireachtas Committee on Housing and was due to chair Thursday’s meeting. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Maria Bailey is the head of the Oireachtas Committee on Housing and was due to chair Thursday’s meeting. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

Fine Gael TD Maria Bailey was absent for a key Oireachtas meeting on Thursday, which she was due to chair, as the fallout from her personal injury case continues.

A meeting of the chairs of all Oireachtas committees was held in Leinster House on Thursday with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in attendance. The meeting was to discuss the work of the different committees.

Ms Bailey is the head of the Oireachtas Committee on Housing but was also due to chair Thursday’s meeting. Fianna Fáil’s Pat Casey deputised for her in housing and Fine Gael’s Colm Brophy deputised for her in chairing the meeting of committees.

It is understood Mr Casey was not informed he would be needed in the committee until midday, just over two hours before the meeting was due to start.

It comes after the hotel at the centre of the controversy surrounding Ms Bailey’s claim confirmed she had officially withdrawn her case.

Ms Bailey had initiated a personal injuries case in the Circuit Court against the Dean hotel of Harcourt Street, Dublin. She was claiming damages of up to €60,000 over injuries she alleged she suffered to her head, back and hip after falling off a swing in the premises on a night out in 2015.

The hotel lodged a full defence of the claim and alleged Ms Bailey (43) had items in both her hands when she sat on the swing.

Political pressure

Following political pressure, the TD announced last weekend that she would withdraw the case.

In a statement on Thursday, Press Up Entertainment Group, which owns the hotel, said a formal Notice of Discontinuance of the case had been filed in the Circuit Court.

“This matter has reached a formal conclusion and we are satisfied with the result,” the statement said. “We now want to fully focus on looking after our guests.”

Asked about the controversy surrounding Ms Bailey, during an RTÉ radio interview on Thursday, former minister for justice Alan Shatter said there were serious questions about the legal advice she received.

“She may have made a bad judgment, we don’t publicly stone people here. I didn’t think it necessary for every member of the Cabinet to excoriate her,” Mr Shatter added.

“There are far more important issues than that at a time when the Defence Forces are in crisis, yet this issue has dominated the airwaves for eight days.”

On Wednesday, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar commissioned an internal review – to be carried out by a senior counsel – to establish “all facts” in relation to Ms Bailey’s personal injuries claim.