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Maria Bailey: Swing fall case TD demoted by Leo Varadkar

Maria Bailey Image copyright RTÉ
Image caption Maria Bailey withdrew her legal action in May

Taoiseach (Irish prime minister) Leo Varadkar has demoted a Fine Gael TD after a controversial compensation action that became known as swing gate.

Maria Bailey brought a legal action against the Dean Hotel in Dublin for alleged injuries.

She fell from an indoor swing in July 2015 while holding a bottle of beer.

The case was embarrassing for the government which has been critical of vexatious claims that have resulted in very high insurance premiums.

She dropped the compensation claim in May after it emerged that she had run a 10km race in under an hour, only three weeks after the fall, despite claiming in court documents that she could not run in the three months after the accident.

Ms Bailey later gave an interview to RTÉ radio about the affair that was widely described as a "car-crash" intervention.

She was initially legally advised by Josepha Madigan who was then also a backbench TD, but is now the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

'Numerous errors of judgement'

The matter was investigated by the Fine Gael party.

In a statement on Tuesday Mr Varadkar said that while Ms Bailey had suffered "real" injuries and her claim was not fraudulent she had made "numerous errors of judgement".

"There have been inconsistencies in Deputy Bailey's account of events to me and the media that I cannot reconcile", he added.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Leo Varadkar said he would remove her as Chairperson of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Housing

Mr Varadkar said that while Ms Madigan had given her colleague initial legal advice, the case was passed on to another member of her legal firm who told her on a number of occasions that while she had a "statable" case, a finding of contributory negligence against her was also likely.

'Devastating'

The taoiseach admitted that the Bailey case "jars with that of a government taking action to reduce personal injury payments, claims and insurance costs to people and businesses".

Mr Varadkar said he was not going to remove the Fine Gael whip from her partly because of the "devastating" effect the saga has had on her.

"She has endured considerable negative publicity, public criticism and is now personally liable for significant legal and medical costs," he added.

But she is to be removed Chairperson of the Joint Oireachtas (parliamentary) Committee on Housing.

In a statement Ms Bailey said that she accepted the taoiseach's decision and regretted taking the case.

"I recognise and regret the difficulties this issue caused for the taoiseach and my colleagues," she added.

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