Is there a moral dimension to the Maria Bailey saga?

Is there a moral dimension to the Maria Bailey saga? Maria Bailey TD.

Is there a morality lesson to be drawn from the saga of Fine Gael TD Maria Bailey and her episode on the hotel swing?

As is widely known, Ms Bailey sat on an indoor swing in a Dublin hotel, fell backwards and suffered hurt to hips, lower back and head from the fall. In consequence, she was bringing an action for injuries against The Dean hotel in Harcourt Street for negligence (the swing was unsupervised). But when discrepancies emerged about the event – and Fine Gael got some doorstep grief from canvassers about it – she instructed her solicitors to withdraw.

On social media, Maria Bailey has been much-mocked for bringing the case into the public realm in the first place, as it emerged she was holding two objects in her hands when she sat on the swing – thus reducing her ability to hold the ropes properly. Moreover, her injuries hadn’t stopped her from running a race of 10 km three weeks after the episode.

Certainly, she herself recognises one lesson resulting from the case: that a person can work hard over the entire course of a career, and still be undone, in the eyes of the public, by one misjudgement. That, surely, is tough.

“I did nothing wrong,” she has insisted. She was, she said, genuinely physically hurt by the fall – the back pain she suffered was “excruciating”. She has claimed that all she wanted was recompense for her medical bills.

Indeed so – legally, Ms Bailey did nothing wrong. And as her parliamentary colleague Josepha Madigan pointed out, she was as entitled as any other citizen to the due process of the law. That is evident, too.

Yet politicians might be prudent to study the advice of wily old characters like Talleyrand, Napoleon’s chief diplomat, who considered that poor judgement was a heinous offence for those in public office. His most damning phrase was: “It was worse than a crime: it was a blunder.”

Maria Bailey didn’t do anything wrong: she just showed poor judgement in making a federal case out of an incident which, though evidently painful for herself, was nevertheless trifling. It wasn’t a crime, but it was a blunder.



She was also unlucky with the timing – the episode was made public just when there’s much concern about “the compo culture” adversely affecting insurance costs, and crippling small businesses.

There is, surely, a moral dimension to the larger question of liability. We need to be honest with ourselves and ask if we need to take responsibility for our mishaps. Accidents do happen.

When St Paul said that sometimes we should “suffer in silence”, perhaps he was being as wise as Talleyrand, without being as cynical.


Esther’s long, hard road

The possible candidates to succeed Theresa May as British Prime Minister are numerous, and it’s hard to know, at this stage, who might be the most effective choice.

Esther McVey [pictured], who stands at 50/1 with the bookies, comes from an Irish Catholic background and grew up in Liverpool. She’s an interesting character, and has had a career in television: she’s also held ministerial office and has been sworn into the Privy Council, the body which advises the Queen.

For the first two years of her life, Ms McVey was in foster-care as a Barnardo’s child, but was subsequently returned to her family.

She is opposed to abortion, and also has conservative views on same-sex marriage. She’s attached to a group called ‘Blue Collar Conservatives’ who look to the interests of working-class voters.

However, despite her Irish Catholic heritage, Esther is subject to criticism in Ireland. She’s a fiery Brexiteer and believes that the Border problem post-Brexit can be solved by ‘invisible’ technology – which Border communities don’t accept as realistic.

Jeremy Hunt (12/1) another candidate for 10 Downing Street, is also broadly pro-life, and Andrea Leadsom (12/1) flies the flag for family values.

Michael Gove (5/1) is someone who basically holds to Christian values and is an observant Anglican.



Something to sing about!
  • Some weekend Masses have hymns attached, and some have not. I’ve often chosen a quiet Saturday evening Mass, which has no hymns. But now I’m veering towards Sunday morning, with hymns included.

I take monthly singing lessons for the sake of my bronchial health – having been advised by a pulmonary specialist that singing is excellent therapy for all chest problems, since singing improves breath. And what better way to exercise the pulmonary vessels than a heartfelt hymn?

A health exercise with spiritual uplift added!