An Tánaiste Simon Coveney has said that Maria Bailey TD should “be allowed to move on” after “paying a “very heavy price for making a mistake”, following renewed criticism of the  Fine Gael TD as it emerged that she was forced to hand back expenses to the Dáil.

The Dun Laoghaire TD grabbed the headlines initially for taking a personal injury claim in what has become known as ‘Swing-gate’, a compensation claim that backfired when CCTV proved she fell from a hotel swing because she was holding two drinks.

Social media pictures also showed her running shortly afterwards despite her claim to have suffered a prolonged injury.

An internal Fine Gael memo admitted that she had “overstated” her claims. Mr. Coveney however said the Bailey would “desperately like to rewind the clock”.

Speaking about a deferred motion of no-confidence by grassroots members in Dun Laoghaire, Mr. Coveney told RTÉ’s Sean O’Rourke:

Maria Bailey is somebody who has paid a very, very heavy price for making a mistake and she continues to pay that price.

She’s looking to rebuild her political career is working extraordinarily hard to do that.

There is a need for fairness here…when people makes mistakes – particularly in politics of course there’s a consequence for that.

I would encourage people to have some sense of fair play here in terms of proportionality as regards the consequences of Maria’s decisions for her.

They have taken an extraordinary toll on her personally and her family and her place in politics.

I think that when disciplinary action is taken, when consequences have been faced up to, there is at some point surely an opportunity to allow a person to move on.

Politics [is] a tough business and the electorate of course ultimately will have their say.

tThe Maria Bailey I know is somebody who desperately would like to rewind the clock on some of the choices she made, has paid an extraordinary price for a mistake, and is trying to move on with both her political career and her life.