Maria Bailey case: ‘Fury’ in Fine Gael over Varadkar decision not to punish TD further

FG member says Taoiseach ‘bottled it’ in not removing the whip over compensation claim

Maria Bailey with former minister Alan Shatter. Ms Bailey was stripped of her position as chair of the Oireachtas committee on housing by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Maria Bailey with former minister Alan Shatter. Ms Bailey was stripped of her position as chair of the Oireachtas committee on housing by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

Fine Gael is split over Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s decision to remove a committee chair from Maria Bailey, with some claiming he “bottled it” in not punishing her further over a controversial compensation claim.

Ms Bailey, a Dún Laoghaire TD, was stripped of her position as chair of the Oireachtas Committee on Housing, a post that is worth €9,500 a year, by Mr Varadkar.

He took the action following an internal party report into Ms Bailey’s claim against the Dean Hotel on Dublin’s Harcourt Street for falling off a swing.

A number of senior Fine Gael sources, spoken with independently, late last week indicated she was set to lose the whip in the Dáil.

But Fine Gael sources said the Taoiseach had decided against doing so for “compassionate” reasons. Ms Bailey’s father, former Fine Gael councillor John Bailey, died in recent weeks.

‘Fury and disbelief’

“In not going further by removing the whip from Deputy Bailey, I do so conscious of the devastating effect this saga has had on Deputy Bailey and her family in particular,” Mr Varadkar said.

One senior Fine Gael figure, however, said there was “fury and disbelief” at the decision, adding: “He has bottled it.”

A TD said the “realpolitik” of tight Dáil numbers meant Mr Varadkar could not remove the whip, but he would have done so if the party was not in an extreme minority government.