HAD the Maria Bailey affair been dealt with as it should have been it would, in time, warrant a half a sentence in this administration’s history.
Had Taoiseach Leo Varadkar shown a scintilla of the ruthlessness Boris Johnson displayed to remake the Tory cabinet then a line, as Mr Varadkar must wish, would have been rightly drawn under the affair. Not so.
Prevarication and a clumsy attempt at evasion — commissioning but not publishing a report to “establish the facts” — have given the affair life long after it should have been finalised. Fianna Fáil has rattled the cage pointing to unanswered questions, one of which is the role, and the extent of it, played by Culture Minister Josepha Madigan.
Ms Bailey, who was not charged much less convicted of anything, was sacked by Mr Varadkar as chair of an Oireachtas committee yet remains a FG candidate for the next general election. A final decision on that will not be made before September when Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe completes his review of candidates. It is likely, or at least it should be, that a grassroots revolt within Ms Bailey’s constituency, when local members demanded she be dropped from the ticket, will be influential. If it is not further questions arise.
This black-or-white affair has been mishandled badly but it offers lessons — one of which is that Mr Varadkar, should he ever find himself negotiating with Mr Johnson, may have to be far more ruthless than he has been in this shabby episode.