Fine Gael TD Maria Bailey has vigorously defended her decision to sue the Dean Hotel for injuries she received after she fell off a swing.
In an interview with RTE radio’s Today with Sean O’Rourke show she claimed that the disclosure of the legal case in a national newspaper had been “methodical, pre planned to cause the maximum damage.”
She said she had never been looking for compensation, she just wanted to have her medical bills covered.
The first she had been aware that the story was going to break was when she received a telephone call from a journalist asking for a comment on the case. The journalist had access to private medical documents.
Ms Bailey said that she had been the subject of “click bait” and had been advised early last week not to withdraw the case as it would appear cynical on the week of the local elections.
Elections are a very emotive time and the election was not lost in the last week, she added.
There had been no pressure from the Fine Gael party for her to withdraw the case, “this is a private matter, it happened a long time ago.”
When asked if she had a bottle in each hand while on the swing, Ms Bailey did not clarify, she said she had fallen, had been “mortified” and asked hotel reception to plasters for the “few cuts and grazes.” The hotel staff had been “very respectful.”
In the past week, she had been subjected to “unbelievable abuse” and could not go home for three days because there were journalists outside her house.
The media had been “judge, jury and executioner” of the leaked documents.
Senator Michael McDowell and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin “should know better” than to comment on her case “without the full facts.”
“I was injured, I never claimed for compensation. The hotel agreed to pay my hospital expenses. I ended up in A&E the following morning and had intensive physio for three weeks.”
She said she had been told that she had “ clear cut case” legally when she asked “if this is worth the hassle. I was told I had nothing to fear. I was told this would not be public until I was before the court.”
Someone was trying to negate all the good work she had done in her 15 years in politics, she said.
“This was a deliberate leak to cause maximum damage.
“The media, one in particular, crossed the line here. I was genuinely hurt. With a back injury, there is constant management of the back.
“Who are journalists held accountable to?
“This was a deliberate attempt to have a massive impact on the party.”
She denied that the case had an impact on the outcome of the local elections, pointing out that the Fine Gael councillors in her electoral area had been re-elected.
“Mine wasn’t a fraudulent case. I followed the legal advice I got.”
When pressed she acknowledged that she was represented by Madigan Solicitors, but added: “Josepha Madigan had nothing to do with it.”
Ms Bailey said she would be reflecting on what had happened and what she had learned about herself in the past week along with issues such as the impact of the media, social media and mental health.
“I will not be bowed down or bullied by keyboard warriors. I don’t think I will be thrown out of the parliamentary party.”
She said that if she meets with the Taoiseach this week she will use the opportunity to raise issues she feels strongly about such as home care and housing.
“I’m drawing a line in the sand today on this.”