Taoiseach and Finance Minister defend Maria Bailey decision

Taoiseach and Finance Minister defend Maria Bailey decision

The Taoiseach and Finance Minister have both insisted that Maria Bailey was removed from the Fine Gael election ticket in a correct and democratic manner. Leo Varakar said he is "absolutely confident" that the Fine Gael party followed protocols when cutting the swing-gate TD as a general election candidate.

It is still not clear as to whether Ms Bailey will take further action to contest the decision of the party's executive council. However, Paschal Donohoe has confirmed that the Dun Laoghaire TD raised "issues" about last month's meeting during which local members voted in favour of a motion which stated that “urgent” action was needed to “improve” Fine Gael's chances at the ballot boxes.

Mr Varakdar said he appreciated that the decision must be "very difficult personally" for Ms Bailey. "It's never a nice thing to be deselected as an election candidate - I can understand how she must be feeling at the moment."

Mr Donohoe, who met the swing-gate TD ahead of Thursday night's Fine Gael executive council meeting to inform her of the proposal to cut her as a party candidate, said she had handled the issue in a "dignified and composed" way.

Asked about any potential action Ms Bailey may now take to contest the decision, Mr Donohoe said: "It's very much a matter for Deputy Bailey regarding the response to what happened".

Deputy Bailey did indicate last night that she had issues in relation to how the meeting [in Dun Laoghaire] was conducted. I'm not aware of what those issues are.

He stressed that the deselection of Ms Bailey was based on "a democratic decision" made by the Executive Council in response to a motion passed in Dun Laoghaire. Mr Donohoe said the controversy had caused public debate but had also been very difficult for Ms Bailey herself.

Speaking about his meeting with Ms Bailey earlier this week, Mr Donohoe said: "I indicated that the decision making process of this sits with the Executive Council, and our proposal would be going to the Executive Council in relation to her candidacy. I felt it was appropriate.

"I would have to say that in the engagement that I had with her, it was handled by her in a very, very dignified and composed way," he said.

Councillor Jennifer Carroll MacNeill has now been added to the ticket in Dun Laoghaire after Fine Gael HQ accepted a local motion asking for changes. Speaking in Cork, Education Minister Joe McHugh suggested that Ms Bailey "would have done things differently" if she had the opportunity.

"I just think it's time now to move on from that decision and give Maria time out from that constant media intrusion over an issue which, look and Maria would say this, if she was to turn back the clock, she would have done things differently. But I think it's time to move on," he said.

In a statement released after Thursday night's meeting, Ms Bailey said she was “disappointed” and said she would be taking time to reflect on the decision. Ms Bailey added that she had wanted to “move on” but that at every turn there were “anonymous sources” trying to reignite the story.

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