Fine Gael national executive to consider dropping Maria Bailey off Dún Laoghaire ticket

It comes after Fine Gael members in her Dún Laoghaire constituency backed a motion calling on the Fine Gael Executive Council to "urgently review" the ticket for the next election

Fine Gael national executive to consider dropping Maria Bailey off Dún Laoghaire ticket

By Elaine Loughlin and Fiachra Ó Cionnaith

Swing-gate TD will Maria Bailey is expected to be formally taken off the General Election ticket in two weeks' time.

It comes after Fine Gael members in her Dún Laoghaire constituency backed a motion calling on the Fine Gael Executive Council to "urgently review" the ticket for the next election and to make any changes necessary in order to improve the party's prospect in any national ballot.

But the motion is not binding and it will now be up to Fine Gael senior officials to make the final decision on her running.

While the motion did not mention Ms Bailey by name, those attending the meeting on Thursday night made it clear that they have no issue with the two other candidates, Minister of State Mary Mitchell-O'Connor and councillor Barry Ward.

The Fine Gael national executive will meet in the middle of this month when it is expected to make the formal decision to drop Ms Bailey from the ticket.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar had already indicated that he would listen to the views of Fine Gael members in Dún Laoghaire if they voted in favour of changing the election ticket in the constituency.

The Taoiseach demoted Ms Bailey from her position as chair of the Oireachtas Housing Committee following an internal inquiry into her claim against a Dublin hotel, which she subsequently dropped.

But some in the party believed that Mr Vaarakdar had not taken severe enough action on the matter and he will now come under pressure to instruct Fine Gael HQ to deselect her.

Ahead of this week's constituency meeting, Mr Varadkar said: "We are a party of democracy. Members select our candidates.

We have the power to add and subtract but generally, it is members who select the candidates. We will listen to what they have to say. Let’s see what they have to say first.

Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty said the party's executive council would "consider and recognise" the concerns the members in Ms Bailey's constituency have.

"Members are always the ones who chose the ticket, the members views have to be listened to. I'm not sure what their views are other than that the ticket should be reviewed by the national executive," Ms Doherty said.

On a human level, Ms Doherty said her party colleague had "been through an incredible amount" since the compensation case was first reported on in May of this year.

"I actually don't know how she's still standing and I think that just goes to show the strength of the character that she actually is. This issue hasn’t been without its controversy over the last number of months, but on a human and personal level, Maria is a colleague of mine and I do respect her."

When contacted by the Irish Examiner today, Ms Bailey said she had no comment to make.

"I won't be discussing internal party matters," she said.

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