Michael McDowell criticises Fine Gael TD for injuries claim
Maria Bailey has alleged negligence against the Dean Hotel after alleged swing fall in 2015
Former minister for justice Michael McDowell has criticised a Fine Gael TD who has taken a personal injuries case against a Dublin hotel.
Mr McDowell, now an Independent senator, raised the Circuit Court proceedings by Dún Laoghaire TD Maria Bailey alleging negligence against the Dean Hotel after an incident in 2015, the year before her election to the Dáil, in which she allegedly fell off a swing in the hotel and injured her head, neck and back. The hotel denies liability.
Mr McDowell told the Seanad that as somebody who had been careless enough to lose his Dáil seat three times, he was struck by a media report about a TD “who lost her seat while on a swing in a hotel in Harcourt street”.
Warned by Cathaoirleach of the Seanad Denis O’Donovan to “tread carefully” in a matter before the courts, Mr McDowell said he would not comment on the merits of the case.
But he said “the proposition is being put in court that there should be supervisors for swings when adults are using them and that it’s a matter of civil liability if there isn’t”.
He added: “It does occur to me that we live in a strange world where civil liability can exist in such circumstances but maybe we are only hearing a portion of the evidence.”
But he said that “if the Government is serious about driving down the claims culture we cannot stand idly by when adults lose their seat with two objects, one in each hand, and fall off a swing and then claim there should have been a supervisor looking after them”.
He added: “Especially when it comes from somebody who has so much public influence and clearly influence over Government policy on these matters.”
Replying for the Government, Fine Gael Seanad leader Jerry Buttimer said he could not comment on a case before the courts, but he said the issue of civil liability in the broader debate on insurance, needed to be addressed.
Mr Buttimer added that the Judicial Council Bill was due back to the Seanad and the Minister for Justice had proposed amendments which, if passed, would allow judges to recommend guidelines for injury payouts.
He said Minister of State for Finance Michael D’Arcy was working to reduce the cost of insurance.
“I note Cork City Council has set aside €20 million for insurance claims. That is a huge chunk of money out of the budget of the city council,” he said.
“It poses the question as to why we must have that kind of money. Let us have that debate at a future time.”