herald

Wednesday 13 November 2019

Minister to face grilling from top barrister over Bailey swing-fall claim

Swings at the Dean Hotel which Maria Bailey fell off in 2015
Swings at the Dean Hotel which Maria Bailey fell off in 2015

A barrister appointed by Fine Gael to investigate Maria Bailey's compensation claim will be allowed to quiz the Culture Minister on what role, if any, she had in the case.

Josepha Madigan has refused to say whether she provided legal advice to Ms Bailey in the lead-up to her decision to issue a personal injuries claim as a result of a fall from a swing.

The claim against the Dean Hotel was formally withdrawn from the circuit court yesterday morning ahead of a meeting between the Dun Laoghaire TD and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

He has now tasked senior counsel David Kennedy with trying "to establish all the facts".

Report

Sources told the Herald Mr Kennedy will be allowed to "go where he wants" with the probe.

They said his inquiry would be "wide-ranging", with one adding: "He's been asked to make all necessary enquiries."

Mr Kennedy's report is expected "within a few weeks".

Party sources also pointed out that a solicitor can act only on the evidence presented to them by a client.

Ms Bailey was represented by a law firm owned by the family of Ms Madigan but she has refused to say whether her Fine Gael colleague was directly involved.

Court papers claimed the hotel was negligent for Ms Bailey's fall because the swing was "unsupervised".

They also said the fitness enthusiast wasn't able to run "at all" for three months. However, the Herald revealed last Saturday that she completed a 10km race in under 54 minutes just three weeks after the incident.

Ms Madigan stopped practising at the firm in 2017 but her possible link to the early stages of the Bailey lawsuit is now in the spotlight. The pair sat together on Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council at the time of Ms Bailey's fall in 2015.

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald said Ms Bailey and Ms Madigan would face questions from the media until they clarified the situation.

Asked whether he believed his Cabinet colleague should provide clarity, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said: "This is a matter for a company that I know Josepha no longer plays a direct role in."

At a private meeting in Leinster House last night, Mr Varadkar appealed to Fine Gael TDs and senators to show Ms Bailey "respect".

She was absent yesterday from the Oireachtas Housing Committee which she normally chairs.

Privately, a number of TDs and ministers say they feel some of the social media abuse directed toward Ms Bailey has gone too far.

Expenses

Ms Bailey was suing in the circuit court which can award up to €60,000 in personal injury matters.

She insisted she wanted only her medical expenses of between €6,000 and €7,000 paid. This is despite the fact her endorsement of claim stated she was seeking damages for personal injury, loss, damage and inconvenience in addition to her medical costs. In defence papers, it was alleged Ms Bailey had items in each hand, restricting her ability to balance or hold rope grips properly.

On radio, Ms Bailey confirmed that she had a beer in her hand and that she was reaching for her friend's bottle of wine when she fell.

The controversy last night overshadowed an extremely strong showing for Fine Gael as the final results from the European elections came in.

Former Rose of Tralee Maria Walsh caused an upset, taking a second seat for the party in Midlands-North-West with 107,198 votes.

Independent MEP Luke 'Ming' Flanagan was also returned to the European Parliament with a vote of 121,824.

Sinn Fein's Matt Carthy took the final seat with 98,732 votes.

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