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Fine Gael candidates told to reveal 'past life' before election starts

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Maria Bailey

Maria Bailey

Maria Bailey

Fine Gael general election candidates were asked to sign a party pledge confirming there was nothing in their past life they had not revealed that could bring the party into disrepute.

At a parliamentary party meeting last week, candidates signed an amended pledge confirming they had revealed any matter, including views they may have held, that could be a breach of Fine Gael's ethos and principles.

The move follows controversies involving Fine Gael candidates Maria Bailey and Verona Murphy.

The candidates were asked to confirm they had no pending prosecutions or previous convictions other than minor road traffic offences that resulted in fines of less than €500.

Revenue

They pledged that they had revealed any Revenue, Workplace Relations, Labour Court or Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement judgments against them.

Any civil litigation taken against them or their companies was also to be revealed to the party general secretary.

In the aftermath of the Bailey controversy, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said candidates would have to reveal any involvement in legal proceedings.

He said he would also introduce a new party pledge that all candidates would be required to sign.

This was updated last month and given to candidates last week when they met in Dublin to discuss the forthcoming general election.

The Taoiseach was still refusing yesterday to reveal the election date, which he is expected to make public in the coming days.

Party colleagues are expecting him to announce it before Thursday to allow him the option of calling the election between February 7 and 14.

Mr Varadkar is due to dis- cuss the election with Cabinet ministers tomorrow before meeting Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin and other party leaders.

However, last night, ministers were suggesting the Taois- each may not tell them the election date, but rather inform them of how he plans to announce it.

Mr Martin launched a scathing attack yesterday on the Taoiseach and Fine Gael over their record in housing and health while in government.

Speaking on RTE Radio One, he said Fine Gael had "not prioritised health" while in government for the past nine years and said the party was putting forward budgets that "don't reflect reality".

He also said the housing crisis was a "desperate indictment" of Fine Gael's ability to "get things done" and said some in the party turn their noses up at the idea of social housing.

Mr Martin also claimed the Taoiseach told him during their talks that he was not sure he could rely on Ms Bailey's support if a no-confidence motion was tabled against Health Minister Simon Harris.

On Twitter, Mr Harris hit back at the Fianna Fail leader, asking "Who is this new politician/agent of change?" before adding: "Oh, he's not new.

"He was in the Cabinet that left the country bust. He was the minister for foreign affairs who lost the EU referendum.

"He was the minister for health who set up the HSE."

Mr Martin's colleagues in turn targeted the Health Minister online, with Fianna Fail TD Thomas Byrne saying: "Simon, please get off Twitter and get back to work.

"There are hundreds of people waiting on trolleys, kids being denied chemo and operations not being done."

Mr Varadkar was in Northern Ireland meeting UK prime minister Boris Johnson at the newly-restored power sharing executive.