Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has told a private meeting of Fine Gael TDs that an internal review to “establish the facts” in the Maria Bailey saga will take two weeks.
He also gave, what several sources said, was an indication that by-elections to fill seats vacated by new MEPs will not happen and a General Election is more likely this year.
“He told the room at the next election that all our faces will be on the ballot paper which we all took as by-elections will not happen,” one source said.
At the meeting, Mr Varadkar told TDs and Senators that the review will be “short and snappy” and will be completed by Senior Counsel David Kennedy within two weeks.
He spoke for just over a minute on the Bailey issue but warned his colleagues to remember Ms Bailey is a person with a family when briefing on the matter, in public and in private.
Despite calls for her to be sacked as chair of the Oireachtas Housing Committee, Ms Bailey has so far escaped sanction.
Mr Varadkar met face-to-face with Ms Bailey on Wednesday to discuss the damage done to the party over her personal injuries case taken against the Dean Hotel after she fell from a swing in 2015. She has agreed to cooperate and participate fully in the review.
Ms Bailey caused fury among her own by her decision to wait until polls closed in the local and European elections to drop the case and by her disastrous interview on RTE Radio on Monday.
In a statement, Fine Gael confirmed she met the Taoiseach.
“In relation to a civil case which Deputy Bailey is withdrawing from the courts, Fine Gael is undertaking an internal review to establish all facts. The review will be undertaken by David Kennedy, Senior Counsel. Deputy Maria Bailey has agreed to participate fully with this review,” the statement said.
Meanwhile, Independent Alliance Minister John Halligan has hit out at his Fine Gael colleagues for the rough treatment of Ms Bailey.
He said that while she handled the situation badly, the treatment of some of her colleagues has been over the top.
“She made a mistake but the time has come to leave her alone. I think I am the only minister talking in support of her. The time for vilifying her is over,” he told the Irish Examiner.
At the Fine Gael meeting last night, Mr Varadkar gave his summation of the local and European elections, highlighting the increase in seats at local level and having the most MEPs.
But it was his comment about the next General Election which raised eyebrows. Mr Varadkar in Brussels on Tuesday said he would not be the cause of an early election but said he could not rule it out.