Taoiseach expected to recommend removal of Maria Bailey as general election candidate

Taoiseach expected to recommend removal of Maria Bailey as general election candidate

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is expected to recommend the removal of TD Maria Bailey as a general election candidate in her Dublin constituency after her controversial swing fall court case claim.

A meeting of the Fine Gael national executive on Thursday evening looks also likely to recommend that Ms Bailey be replaced by a straight swap on the election ticket, potentially by newly elected councillor Jennifer Carroll MacNeill.

Party sources said Ms Bailey is not expected to quit the party if she is removed as a candidate for Dun Laoghaire. Mr Varadkar will also have an influence with his recommendation.

Mr Varadkar told reporters recently that any decision about candidates in the constituency would be guided by local recommendations. This is despite the fact Fine Gael HQ and the leadership ultimately have the power to add or remove candidates.

An internal constituency motion recently was passed which called for an “urgent” review of the ticket in order to make "any changes necessary in order to improve the party's prospect" in any national ballot.

While it did not mention any candidates by name, it was widely accepted the move did not relate to junior education minister Mary Mitchell O'Connor or party councillor Barry Ward who are also selected to run in the four-seat constituency.

Senior party sources confirmed to the Irish Examiner that Ms Bailey would be removed and likely replaced with Cllr Carroll MacNeill.

This will be a straight swap. He [Mr Varadkar] will also make the recommendation.

It is expected that the decision afterwards will be communicated by phone to Ms Bailey. 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.

But the controversy over the personal injuries claim has rumbled on since before the local and European elections last May.

It later emerged that Ms Bailey, while she had suffered injuries, had taken part in a 10km run weeks after the incident.

She was demoted by Leo Varadkar after an internal party report and was also demoted in Leinster House. Mr Varadkar said she had signed a court affidavit overstating the impact of her injuries on her running.

Fine Gael sources last night said Ms Bailey, if deselected, was not expected to run as an independent in the elections nor vote against the government in the Dail.

Ms Bailey did not respond to a request for comment.

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