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Fine Gael swing fall probe finds Maria Bailey's claim overstated impact of injuries

Independent.ie logo Independent.ie 07/07/2019 Philip Ryan
a woman holding a frisbee: Maria Bailey. Picture: Gerry Mooney Maria Bailey. Picture: Gerry Mooney

An internal Fine Gael investigation has found Maria Bailey's personal injury claim overstated the impact of injuries she suffered as a result of falling from a swing in a Dublin city centre hotel, the Sunday Independent can reveal.

Ms Bailey signed an affidavit of verification which accompanied separate legal papers setting out the alleged injuries she incurred from her fall in the Dean Hotel.

The Fine Gael TD is understood to have read what is called a pleading document, in which it was claimed she was unable to run for three months after the fall, before signing the verifying affidavit.

The Irish Independent previously revealed Ms Bailey ran a 10km race three weeks after she fell from the swing.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was last week given the report which was compiled by barrister David Kennedy.

a wooden door in a room: Swings at the Dean Hotel which Maria Bailey fell off in 2015 © www.doug.ie Swings at the Dean Hotel which Maria Bailey fell off in 2015

The Taoiseach met Ms Bailey last Thursday to discuss the report, and is due to meet her again before he makes a final decision on the controversy. Speaking last Friday, Mr Varadkar said he had considered publishing the Fine Gael report, but had been advised he could not.

"I met with David Kennedy. He pointed out that he sought the co-operation of those who were interviewed for the report on the basis that it wouldn't be published," he said. "And he gave them that commitment in writing so I don't feel I could possibly override that."

The court papers lodged by Ms Bailey's legal team, Madigans Solicitors, said she was a "keen runner prior to the accident but could not run at all for three months post- accident and has had to reduce her activities significantly since".

These legal papers are not signed. However, they were entered into the Circuit Court with an affidavit of verification which was signed by Ms Bailey.

Social media posts show that on August 3, 2015, Ms Bailey ran The Bay 10K in Dun Laoghaire.

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She recorded a time of 53 minutes and 56 seconds. This was three weeks after she fell from the swing on July 10, 2015.

During an interview with Sean O'Rourke on RTE Radio 1, the TD admitted that details of her inability to run in her personal injury claim were incorrect.

"It is in the claim and that is wrong," she said. She added that it was "dangerous" to "cross legal documents at a an early stage".

"The plaintiff has every right to amend those particulars prior to it going before a judge. And a judge can adjudicate in due course on that. I was the one who put it on my social media, I had nothing to hide here," Ms Bailey said.

The date of her fall from the swing was also incorrect in her legal pleadings, which Ms Bailey said she had instructed her legal team to correct.

a woman smiling for the camera: Probe: Fine Gael's Maria Bailey has withdrawn her claim over a fall from a swing. Photo: Tom Burke Probe: Fine Gael's Maria Bailey has withdrawn her claim over a fall from a swing. Photo: Tom Burke

However, at this point, the first-time TD had dropped her case against the Dean Hotel. The hotel is understood to still be seeking legal costs from Ms Bailey.

Ms Bailey was represented by Madigans Solicitors, which is the former legal practice of Culture Minister Josepha Madigan. Ms Madigan's father Paddy set up the firm, and her brother Patrick continues to run the legal business.

Madigans Solicitors and Ms Madigan are understood to have co-operated fully with the internal Fine Gael investigation.

Solicitors representing the Dean Hotel also co-operated with the review of the case.

During the interview on RTE, Ms Bailey said she had a bottle of beer in her hand and was reaching for a friend's bottle of wine when she fell from the swing.

"I had my beer in my hand, and then I was reaching for my friend's. I had a bottle of wine, she was taking her camera out of her jacket. I then found myself on the floor," she said.

Ms Bailey did not respond to requests for comment.

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