Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has painted himself into a corner over the report on the Maria Bailey compensation claims controversy. He said, last week, that it is not the practice for a political party to publish internal documents and that he did not know if there would be legal issues in doing so in this case.
That disclaimer carries two shabby dodges. Ms Bailey is a member of the party in Government, so suggesting it is an internal party matter is disingenuous. Ms Bailey’s behaviour, if it is acceptable to Government, is an indicator of the standards expected, so it is a matter of grave public interest.
Suggesting that there may be legal issues is a well-worn dodge, too — if the report is no more than an accurate account of the affair, what might they be? We should expect better from the Taoiseach. FG grassroots members seem to: Some of them have demanded publication of the report into a controversy which they, rightly, believe cost their party seats in recent local elections.
If this report is not published, it would be another affront to the idea of accountability promised by Mr Varadkar and his predecessor. It would, however, be foolish not to appreciate that nothing will be published before next week’s Dáil summer recess, which offers a sanctuary of sorts.
Ms Bailey merely fell from a hotel swing, but if this report is not published, her party will fall much further. Its credibility, its store of political capital, and, most of all, its voter support, will fall. Wake up, smell the coffee, etc.