Regina Doherty praises Maria Bailey’s 'strength of character'

‘She has been through an incredible amount but we’re a democratic party’

The motion in Dún Laoghaire will be widely seen as an attempt to have Maria Bailey removed from the party ticket. Photograph: Dara MacDonaill/The Irish Times

The motion in Dún Laoghaire will be widely seen as an attempt to have Maria Bailey removed from the party ticket. Photograph: Dara MacDonaill/The Irish Times

 

The Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty has said the Fine Gael party needs to listen to the views of members in Maria Bailey’s constituency who passed a motion calling for an urgent review of the ticket.

Ms Doherty said that on a personal level, “I actually don’t know how she’s still standing”.

Fine Gael members in Dún Laoghaire voted on Thursday night for a motion asking the party hierarchy to urgently review the constituency’s general election ticket, putting pressure on Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to strip Bailey of the party candidacy.

“I think they made their concerns known last night. I think the results of that motion and that ballot now have to be sent to the national executive who will have to consider and recognise the concerns that they clearly have,” Ms Doherty said.

Controversy

“This issue hasn’t been without its controversy over the last number of months, but on a human and personal level, Maria is a colleague of mine and I do respect her. I think she has been through an incredible amount but at the end of the day we’re a democratic party.

“The members are always the ones that choose the ticket, I know people get added and stuff like that thereafter when we have gaps in the ticket but the members’ views have to be listened to and that’s the job of the national executive.”

“I think she’s a fine politician and on a human level I think she’s been through an incredible amount over the last number of months. I actually don’t know how she’s still standing. I think that just goes to show the strength of the character that she actually is.”

Although Ms Bailey was not named in the motion that was put before the meeting of local party members in the Royal Marine Hotel in Dún Laoghaire on Thursday evening, it will widely be seen as the local organisation asking for her to be removed from the ticket.

Potential replacements for Ms Bailey on the party slate for the four-seat constituency include councillors Jennifer Carroll MacNeill and Lorraine Hall. Ms Bailey had already been selected to stand for the party in the constituency in the next general election alongside Mary Mitchell O’Connor, the Minister of State for Higher Education, and councillor Barry Ward.

Executive council

The motion called on Fine Gael’s national executive council “to urgently review the ticket for the general election and to make any changes necessary in order to improve our prospects in the forthcoming general election”.

Ms Bailey has been embroiled in controversy over her personal injuries claim against a Dublin hotel. She was stripped of her position as chair of the Oireachtas Committee on Housing, a post that is worth €9,500 a year, by the Taoiseach in July. Mr Varadkar 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. The report found Ms Bailey’s affidavit “overstated the impact of her injuries”.

Ms Bailey ran a 10km run three weeks after the incident. In July, the Taoiseach said he could not reconcile “inconsistencies” in Ms Bailey’s “accounts to me and the media”.