TDs set to take up Maria Bailey's former committee chair roles

TDs set to take up Maria Bailey's former committee chair roles
Hildegarde Naughton and Noel Rock

Fine Gael TDs Noel Rock and Hildegarde Naughton are set to be promoted and take up Maria Bailey's Oireachtas committee places after her swing-gate fall from grace.

Party sources confirmed the two TDs have been lined up to replace Ms Bailey in the new Dáil term, with Mr Rock taking her role as housing committee chair and Ms Naughton the position as chair of the committee of chairpersons.

Mr Rock's promotion will be seen as particularly relevant as he was the first Government TD to criticise Ms Bailey when the swing case emerged in May.

However, it is likely to be of more practical use to Fine Gael in boosting the TD's re-election changes in the competitive three-seat Dublin North West constituency which also includes Sinn Féin TD Dessie Ellis, Social Democrats TD Roisin Shortall, and Fianna Fáil's Dublin lord mayor Paul McAuliffe.

The constituency - which includes both well-to-do areas like Glasnevin and hard-pressed communities such as Finglas and Ballymun - has significant housing problems, which Mr Rock will now have the opportunity to help address as committee chair.

Similarly, while less high-profile, the promotion of Ms Naughton to chair of the committee of chairs will give the TD an opportunity to emphasise her Leinster House credentials in Galway West.

The promotions of Mr Rock and Ms Naughton came after Ms Bailey last month resigned as chair of three Oireachtas committees in the wake of a still unpublished internal Fine Gael investigation into her now dropped legal case against the Dean Hotel.

In a statement last month Ms Bailey - who left as chair of the housing, committee of committee chairs and members interest committees - said she was making the decision "in the interests of the smooth running" of the political groups due in part to the ongoing attention over the scrapped case.

In a letter to Oireachtas committee secretariat Charles Hearne last month, Ms Bailey said: "I now feel that in the interest of the smooth running of the select committee on members interest it would be best for me to resign as chair of the committee."

After two months of delays, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar released a damning statement against Ms Bailey in July and removed her as housing committee chair in response to a still unpublished internal Fine Gael review into her swing fall case.

While accepting Mr Varadkar's view, which included a reference to "numerous errors of judgement", Ms Bailey defended her decision to take the case by saying it was based on legal advice.

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