Fine Gael MEP Mairead McGuinness has hit out at party TD Maria Bailey over her "swing" legal case, insisting it affected the party's support on the doorsteps in the lead up to this weekend's elections.
Speaking to reporters after arriving at the Midlands North West European elections count centre in Castlebar, Co Mayo, the likely constituency poll topper said Ms Bailey was in her view wrong to take the case.
Asked if it damaged Fine Gael's election performance, Ms McGuinness said:
"So it did impact because I did a very big meeting in Navan with the Meath Chamber and the insurance issue is a major issue. And what’s troubling for me is that there are businesses who are afraid to speak out because if they do they will lose the bit of insurance that they have.
"Already I’ve written to Commissioner Vestager asking her to extend the investigation beyond the motor industry right across the board particularly into public liability.
"I also think we need to look at is there any competition in this sector at all because from my conversations with businesses there isn’t. And we need to be aware of that.
"So I think the bigger issue is how do we make sure that businesses can go and get reasonable quotes form a few companies rather than going to several agents who go to one company for a quote. I’m troubled that that might be the case at the moment," she said.
Asked if she was "glad" Ms Bailey has ended her legal case, Ms McGuinness said: "Yes. I am glad she dropped the case. I know there were people who said that to me having listened to her decision. Look I’m sure it’s very tough for her as well but I’m glad the case is dropped."
However, she said it is unlikely there will be any "repercussions" for the Dublin TD within the party when she meets Taoiseach Leo Varadkar about what happened next week:
"Like I said I’m more troubled by the businesses that are in confidence speaking to me but will not speak out because they are terrified that they will be forced to close if I put on the record what I am being told."
Speaking during the same interview, Ms McGuinness was jokingly asked if she is looking forward to potentially spending another five years in the European parliament with Nigel Farage given the likely election result and ongoing Brexit confusion.
She responded: "Well, just for the record, I've never hung out with Nigel Farage. I'd rather eat razor blades, but perhaps I shouldn't say that.
"I don't hang out with people who are disruptive, and whose entire objective is to pull the European objective apart.
"I think we need to be very careful because of course those who are very good making videos get the oxygen of publicity. Those of us who actually do a bit of hard graft don't.
"I believe passionately that bringing people together is never as important as it is today, but equally dividing people has never been as easy.
"Look across the water at what is happening. Look at this campaign where some tried and failed. And thank god Ireland is more open and aware, we're bigger than that."