Posted by: chiarraigrrl | February 8, 2010

A few thoughts on George Lee’s resignation from the Dáil and Fine Gael

First, for those of you who haven’t read George Lee’s statement on his resignation:

Statement from George Lee TD.

I wish to announce that I have resigned from the Fine Gael Party and from my seat in Dáil Eireann today Monday 8th February 2010.

It has been a very difficult decision, but it is one that I have taken after a great deal of reflection on my position and on the role that I have been playing in Fine Gael since I
joined that Party in May last year.

The nine months since then have been a period of enormous economic upheaval. Throughout that period I have done my best to play a positive role in contributing to the national debate and to efforts to find a solution for many of the country’s economic problems.

The reality, however, is that despite my best efforts I have had virtually no influence or input into shaping Fine Gael’s economic policies at this most critical time.

The role I have been playing within the party has been very limited and I have found this to be personally unfulfilling.

When I entered politics last May I made it clear that I was doing so because I wanted to try to play a new role contributing to economic policy formulation. After nine months of trying within the political system it is now my considered view that the role available to me within Fine Gael is not a role I am happy to play.

I would like thank most sincerely all those who campaigned for me, for all of their efforts and support. I would also like to thank my Secretarial and Parliamentary Assistants for all of the help and work that they have provided to me.

I particularly want to thank the electorate of Dublin South who voted for me in such large numbers last May. It has been a great privilege and an honour to serve on their behalf. However, I do not believe I would be serving the electorate honestly if I were to continue allowing my efforts and mandate to be used to promote and market economic policies into which I have had no input.

I’ll admit, I’m still a bit shocked. Perhaps shocked isn’t the right word – on the one hand, I can’t quite believe it’s true – like someone’s pulling an early April Fool’s joke. On the other, anyone who saw George being interviewed over the last few months could see his increasing frustration. As the economy continued to plunge, and unemployment rates continued to rise, nothing productive seemed to come out of Dáil Eireann – and where was George Lee, who we all hoped would help us come out of this mess rather than seeing the economy continue to implode? He was not anywhere to be seen, and didn’t seem to have any real role in Fine Gael’s policy, despite the huge mandate given him by Dublin South voters. Surely FG would have done well to take that mandate on board (and the support from across the country – I can’t tell you how many people I spoke to, myself included, who wished they lived in Dublin South just so they could vote for George Lee).

In the weeks after the election, when George seemed to positively vanish from sight, my mother started commenting that perhaps Fine Gael had asked him to run just to silence his dissenting voice from the national discussion on the economy. Watching his increasing frustration on the rare occasion he was allowed to be interviewed reinforced the idea to me – that Fine Gael hadn’t wanted his talent and intelligence, but rather simply had him join them to silence his voice. And his statement, above, doesn’t shake that idea from my mind – but rather reinforces it. I would love to know what exactly Fine Gael claimed to George Lee to get him to agree to run last year, but judging by the transparency of Irish politics (*ahem*) we will likely never know…

At least in RTE he epitomised the role of the Fourth Estate that I had written about recently. In the Dáil, the people’s watchdog was silenced. I for one hope to see him back in RTE, keeping a sharp eye on the economic policies of our government, as soon as poosible.

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