Taoiseach 'has confidence in' Maria Bailey, but side-steps question on campaigning with her in election

Taoiseach 'has confidence in' Maria Bailey, but side-steps question on campaigning with her in election

Update: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he still has confidence in Maria Bailey as a general election candidate - despite side-stepping questions over whether he will specifically campaign with her in her constituency during any election race.

Mr Varadkar made the comments during a Brussels end-of-EU-summit press conference hours after it emerged some Fine Gael members in Ms Bailey's Dun Laoghaire constituency have tabled a no confidence motion in her.

Asked if he still has confidence in Ms Bailey after the latest controversy to surround her, Mr Varadkar said:

"To answer your question, yeah I have confidence in deputy Bailey as a candidate for the general election.

She is somebody who made some very significant errors of judgement, but she has been reprimanded for that.

"She has been demoted and I demoted her and removed her as chair of the housing committee, but Fine Gael is a democratic party, and our members do decide who their candidate is. And we have to respect that."

However, asked by the Irish Examiner if, given he has confidence in Ms Bailey, he would commit to visiting her constituency to campaign alongside her in any general election race, Mr Varadkar side-stepped the question.

"Whenever the election comes I'll be happy to campaign alongside any candidate who's been selected and ratified for Fine Gael, you know, that goes without saying."

Earlier: Tánaiste calls for 'fairness' after motion of no confidence tabled against Maria Bailey

Tánaiste Simon Coveney has reaffirmed his support in Maria Bailey following reports of a motion of no confidence tabled against the TD within the party.

The motion was tabled against her in her own constituency of Dún Laoghaire and was brought by senior figures in the party following her compensation case this year.

Maria Bailey.
Maria Bailey.

Ms Bailey had lodged a case against the Dean Hotel in 2015, the year before she became a TD. The case related to a fall from a swing, which Ms Bailey said happened in part because she was not properly supervised at the time. Earlier this year she dropped the case.

It is believed party members said her personal injury claim will cause further damage to the organisation.

Mr Coveney told the Today with Sean O'Rourke show this morning on RTÉ Radio 1 that "the motion failed" and that the electorate will ultimately have their say.

The motion has been deferred to a later date.

The Tánaiste said: "Maria Bailey is somebody who has paid a very, very heavy price for making a mistake... and she continues to pay that price.

"She is a very hard-working TD, she has been selected to represent Fine Gael in the next General Election, she is looking to rebuild her career and is working extraordinarily hard to do that."

He spoke of disciplinary action having been taken, saying the party has had a "detailed, internal investigation" and encouraged people to have a sense of fair play.

Mr Coveney said: "There is a need for fairness here. When people make mistakes, particularly in politics, of course there is a consequence for that. I would encourage people to have some sense of fair play here, in terms of proportionality as regards the consequences of Maria's decision for her.

"They have taken an extraordinary toll on her personally and her family.

"She has paid an extraordinary price for a mistake and is trying to move on.

"The Maria Bailey I know is somebody who would desperately like to rewind the clock on some of the choices she made.

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