‘Swing-gate’ TD Maria Bailey axed from General Election ticket

‘Swing-gate’ TD Maria Bailey axed from General Election ticket

- with reporting from Elaine Loughlin

Swingate TD Maria Bailey came out fighting for her political career tonight but was axed from the general election ticket for Fine Gael's campaign in Dun Laoghaire, Dublin.

The embattled TD faced a tense and lengthy meeting of the Fine Gael national executive council in Dublin city centre at which, she told the Irish Examiner, she had wanted to “tell the truth”.

But, despite her efforts, she was dropped from the three-person ticket for the constituency following controversy over her personal injuries claim against a Dublin hotel for falling off a swing.

The scandal, which has dogged Fine Gael since early in the summer, came to a head tonight after officials deselected her from the next election race.

In a statement, Ms Bailey said she was “disappointed”.

She said that, after an internal party review earlier this year, that she had apologised and that Taoiseach Leo Varadkar had in an email in July told her that he "considered the matter closed and wanted us all to move on".

She said she had been told on Wednesday this week of a decision to remove her after a previous Dun Laoghaire motion but that she had “issues” with this.

In a follow up letter, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar then wrote to her this evening and told her that under the Fine Gael Constitution that she was being “deleted” as a candidate.

Ms Bailey added in her statement that she had wanted to “move on” but that at every turn there were “anonymous sources” trying to reignite the story.

She thanked her constituents and the party. But she also said that she would continue to fulfil her role as a public representative. She did not respond to calls tonight and it remains unclear if she might run as an independent.

It is understood that Ms Bailey at the executive meeting in Dublin was accompanied by her solicitor and appealed to officials not to delete her as a candidate.

It has been confirmed by Fine Gael that councillor and former party advisor Jennifer Carroll MacNeill will be added to the ticket in Dun Laoghaire. She will join the two remaining candidates for Fine Gael, minister Mary Mitchell O'Connor and councillor Barry Ward, for the next general election.

The developments come after a meeting of members in the Dun Laoghaire constituency on Halloween night at which it was decided that “urgent” action was needed to “improve” Fine Gael's chances at the ballot boxes.

While Ms Bailey was not named, it was widely assumed that the motion pertained to her.

Earlier today, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar flagged that Fine Gael would implement the local members wishes. Canvassing in Dublin-Fingal, he said:

“We have a Democratic Party in the first instance our members decide who represents them in their constituencies and then that gets signed off by our Executive Council and they are meeting this evening."

Ms Bailey earlier this year withdrew legal proceedings she had filed claiming she had been injured when she fell from a swing in a Dublin hotel.

It later emerged that, while she had suffered injuries, she had taken part in a 10km run weeks after the incident. She was demoted by Mr Varadkar and he said she had signed a court affidavit overstating the impact of her injuries on her running.

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