Maria Bailey controversy: Taoiseach expected to meet Fine Gael TD

Varadkar says many would agree with criticism from Heather Humphreys over ‘compensation culture’

Maria Bailey TD. Photograph: RollingNews.ie

Maria Bailey TD. Photograph: RollingNews.ie

 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is expected to meet with Fine Gael TD Maria Bailey on Wednesday to discuss the backlash over a personal injury claim, which she has withdrawn.

On Monday, Ms Bailey defended her decision to sue the Dean Hotel for injuries she received after she fell off a swing.

Minister for Business Heather Humphreys became the latest Cabinet member to indicate unhappiness with the situation.

Although she did not explicitly reference Bailey’s case, Ms Humphreys said often those who “trip or fall” do so through their own “carelessness”.

“Many [businesses] do feel that they are being punished for this compensation culture, and I have to say that my view on this is very simple: people need to have some common sense and they need to be responsible for their own personal safety.

“So if you trip or you fall, you have to ask yourself why it happened, and more often than not the answer is because of your own carelessness.”

Minister for Business Heather Humphreys: said often those who trip or fall do so through their own carelessness. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
Minister for Business Heather Humphreys: said often those who trip or fall do so through their own carelessness. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Ms Bailey was due to chair the Oireachtas housing committee on Wednesday morning. But last night it was confirmed that the deputy chairman of the committee, Deputy Pat Casey would step into the role to facilitate her meeting with the Taoiseach.

She is under pressure to resign her chairmanship of the committee or her position as “chair of chairs” of all committees in the Oireachtas.

Varadkar meeting

Mr Varadkar is due to attend a meeting of that group on Thursday.

It is expected that he will meet her personally on Wednesday afternoon, sources say.

“I’ll be meeting her before the end of the week, and I would like to have that meeting and hear her story. I am not going to ask her questions through the media, I’ll do that when I meet her during the week, and that is the appropriate thing to do,” Mr Varadkar said on Tuesday.

He said a lot of people in Ireland would agree with what Ms Humphreys said.

“I heard what Minister Humphreys had to say today in the Dáil and I think a lot of people would identify with that and agree with what she had to say.”

Ms Bailey defended herself in an interview with RTÉ’s Seán O’Rourke this week.

Recounting the incident, Ms Bailey said when she sat on the swing, “I had my beer in my hand, and then I was reaching for my friend’s, I had a bottle of wine. She was taking her camera out of her jacket. I then found myself on the floor. I was mortified.”

‘Unfortunate’ interview

Minister for Health Simon Harris previously described her radio interview as “unfortunate” and said that in withdrawing the claim it was an acknowledgment that it “should not have proceeded”.

He said that Fine Gael members would have appreciated if she had withdrawn it before the local and European elections.

“I think members up and down the country would have appreciated, if it was going to be withdrawn, that this could have happened before the local and European elections and not after, and I think perhaps, had that happened, the situation could have been more effectively dealt with.”

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said he accepted that the “optics have not been good” and that the issue was raised on the doorsteps during the course of the election campaign.