Fine Gael is deeply divided over calls for Fine Gael TD Maria Bailey to stand down from the party over the ‘swing-gate’ controversy.
As she faced public calls to resign from some TDs, she othersMs Bailey
has received support from others who have have hit out at her party’s new-found “off with her head” culture.
Speaking privately, TDs have said they are still “getting it in the neck” from constituents over the scandal‘swing-gate’ controversy, despite Ms Bailey’s public demotion by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar last week.
One Fine Gael TD went public yesterday in saying Ms Bailey should not stand in the next general election, because of the damage done.
Louth TD and chair of the Oireachtas Transport and Sport Committee Fergus O’Dowd became the first Fine Gael politician to openly demand Ms Bailey not to stand for the party at the next election following weeks of controversy.
“I’d prefer if she didn’t stand,” he said.
On his local radio station, LMFM, the former minister said that people in the party are “deeply concerned” and are wary that it might affect Fine Gael’s standing in the polls.
“What Maria Bailey did was wrong, and that is the reality for her. There are indications that her own party in Dun Laoghaire are saying that she shouldn’t stand and they want her removed. Would I prefer she wouldn’t stand, yes I would, of course. But I cannot influence that, but the badge she wears is not one I am happy with,” he told the Michael Reade Show.
When contacted, Mr O’Dowd said he did not wish to add anything to his earlier comments.
However, last night a leading Senator and former TD, Michelle Mulherin, hit out at the “off with her head” mentality among some of her colleagues.
Speaking to the Irish Examiner, Ms Mulherin said TDs are not disposable and politicians are people who make mistakes.
“Where is the humanity here? She has just lost her father. People are entitled to make mistakes, we all have flaws and none of us is perfect. Maria is a colleague, she is dealing with the consequences of what happened, and severe consequences at that,” she said.
Ms Bailey did not respond to calls last night from the Irish Examiner.
A spokeswoman for the party did not comment on Mr O’Dowd’s remarkscall, instead referencing but referred people to the Taoiseach’s statement on the matter last week.
Mr Varadkar was clearly not pleased at the episode and decided to demote Ms Bailey from her €9,500-a-year post as chair of the Oireachtas Housing Committee.
However, his decision not to remove the party whip has annoyed many within the party who feel her decision to pursue the personal injuries case against the Dean Hotel after she fell in 2015 did Fine Gael enormous damage.
The case taken by Ms Bailey against the Dublin’s Dean H venue was revealed just four days before polling day.
On her demotion, Ms Bailey said she regrets taking the case and the negative impact it had on the Fine Gael campaign in the run-up to Maythe European and local elections last May.