George Lee resigns from Fine Gael and his Dail seat

I just spotted this – had to check I got the date right as this seems to much like a first of April story, but sure enough his former (???) colleagues at RTE, and the Irish Times have reports on this.  At the time George got elected a number of comments on this blog made the point that this would increase the economics know-how in the Dail.

By Edgar Morgenroth

Professor of Economics at Dublin City University Business School

238 replies on “George Lee resigns from Fine Gael and his Dail seat”

Economics meets Politics and RealPolitik … tuff ol lesson for George. Phone in on the Joe Duffy goes 86% [11,000 + say YES George] in support of George ……… recent polls show 75% disenchanted with political system …….. maybe George has done the state a little service – hope the price to pay the piper not too excessive ……

Good riddance!

FG are far better off without him.

Under no circumstances should RTE have him back.

I think all the political parties will think twice now about foisting egomaniac economists on the electorate. Bang goes any possible political careers for David McWilliams, Morgan Kelly and others.

My guess is that he quit because he clearly sees that the economy is on the brink of a major upturn and George the Eternal Pessimist simply couldn’t cope with it. Its no coincidence that he quit on the day that the ESRI/KBC index of consumer confidence recorded its largest increase since 2004 and that it was reported new car sales in the first week of February were 50% up on the same week last year.

I predicted on this site last July that economic recovery would lead to the demise of the reputations of Ireland’s doom pornographer economists and that within 18 months of that recovery George Lee, David McWilliams and Morgan Kelly would be delivering pizzas. I see no reason to change that prediction now.

It’s bad timing as it will overshadow the real story of the day – the IMF pointing out to Brian Lenihan last April that NAMA wouldn’t achieve it’s objective of getting credit flowing into the economy. Not just the IMF but Mr Seelig (soon to be appointed to the NAMA board) of the IMF.

So, they told the government last April did they?

It can’t possibly be true because in a post made by Minister Lenihan on…..

….put there on 14th October 2009 he said “The establishment of NAMA removes the riskiest assets from the banks balance sheets which frees the banks to restore the flow of credit to the real economy.”

So that’s alright then. These documents are obviously wrong.

LOL ….. well I would be laughing if it wasn’t so serious.

Well done to the Irish Times though on getting the FOI act to actually work for once.

As for George………. I expect something will turn up.

What chance now of improving the quality of the legislature?

George was a little naïve in not agreeing his role before the election as he could have won as an independent.

He apparently expects to return to RTÉ and as with Charlie Bird, I assume he missed the cushy life at Montrose, in contrast with the routine of evening constituency meetings etc.

Lee seems very angry that he was not involved in economic policy development.

Perhaps Andrew McDowell of Fine Gael, who has posted here in the past, could tell us how FG formulate economic policy.


‘the economy is on the brink of a major upturn …’ shudda gone to SpekSavers John ….

Fair play to George.

He gave it shot, ran for the dail and got elected on a ‘make a difference’ platform. When it became obvious to him that he could not deliver on the promises he made when he was elected, he resigned.

More of this would be great..

Yeah, id say Morgans just weeping and gnashing his teeth that his chance at the Dail/ Apache Pizza (which is it you think he/they/we/them/yiz were going to do?) is gone.
You clearly have never had much time with MK if you felt he had a political career. Morgan has many fine qualities, but the ones associated with a polticial career? Not that I have seen.

I admire GL’s bottle in both entering politics and leaving it – especially since the latter does make him seem like the Roy Keane of Irish politics. It’s a loss to politics no doubt. Clearly he must have been very disenchanted with the neglect of his talents by FG.

I presume he knew quitting would make him seem a bit eccentric/unreliable/egotistical/impatient in many people’s eyes but chose to do it anyway because, as he says, he was only in it to influence policy and he wasn’t doing that. While I genuinely wouldn’t question his motives, I do question whether he has tried hard enough to exercise the influence he desired, eg by floating a few trial balloons, or indeed by accepting Enda Kenny’s last minute offer of a front bench post. George seems to have considered this too little too late, but if he wanted influence then that shouldn’t have mattered.

To focus on the political more than the loss of policy talent this a mess by FG and disappointingly shows why they are never in power and the current shower remain entrenched there.

Whether George was naive or not is irrelevant. Having scored the coup of getting him it was up to FG to hold on to him and use him. Instead they have lost him. Thats a mess and a half and should have been avoided.

We are in a woeful situation when the main political party are crooked and the main alternative is cautious like a granny on a ski slope.

You were too honest for politics George and have too much integrity.You made the correct decision today,only crooks in Irish politics.I hope you get your old job back in RTE.Its about time good honest law abiding citizens were acknowledged.Good Luck George.

People should be careful what they wish for, especially someone like Lee! The way he left his RTE bosses looking like prize idiots when he made his decision to embark on a political career was one thing; his decision to flee the Fine Gael party – because he wasn’t get his icecream now, immediately, when he had just begun to screw up his face and before he had even bawled for it – suggests that however technically good he may be as an economist, he doesn’t appear to have the temperament for politics. For his own sake, it’s just as well that he has decided to go now. A few years covering the RDS Dog Shows should give him time to reflect on the values of loyalty and being a team player and serving your apprenticeship in your chosen profession, among other things.

Don’t know how he can go back to RTE in a journalist role, he’s clearly shown his political opinion and viewpoint. Possibly he could do more like a commentator type role (ie David McWilliams), but not reporting or investigative journalism.

As people have noted above, he made RTE look like idiots, he’s made FG look like idiots, and he’s made the people of South Dublin look somewhat like idiots. He may have had good and honest reasons for the decisions he’s made over the last year, but he’s fast running out of allies, in spite of some of the slightly OTT eulogising going on today from some quarters.


I don’t see why he should get his job “back” in RTE at all.

Was he on sabbatical? Is that how RTE works?

@ Greg

“Is that how RTE works?”


It would also fit with the career paths of many of our longer-term politicians, who are on fully pensionable “Oireachtas leave” from their state-protected jobs, some of them for over 30 years….

I remember the sincerity in his eyes when he first announced that he would run for the dail. He had passion to make the country better. He inspired some of it in me.

This event does reveal a few things?

The folly of Georges decision making process!
The futility of opposition politics, how much of the egg will end up on Enda Kennys face after this?
The redundancy of our current method of practising politics.

Fair play to George!
How many people currently in the dail have already figured out what George has, but continue in there for career oppurtunities, and tolerate and practise the pump politics.

For the journos out there:
It would be worth asking each TD have they reached GL’s conclusions, and if so why are they still there?
Were they shite school teachers and dont want to go back to it??



I knew it applied to teachers (which I think is a disgrace).

So someone in the employed in private sector entering politics has to put their career/job on the line.

Someone employed in the “Public Sector” has a guaranteed job/pension if it doesn’t work out.

Maybe that explains why there are so many teachers and publicans in the Dail.

people are saying lee made RTE and FG look like idiots.

The only point to consider is that for the voting public george lee is a trusted communicator on economic policy.

focus on anything else is missing the point. Lee could have won FG votes and helped establish the FG economic narrative as a valid alternative in the voters mind.

If the FG strategists couldnt square that then they were poor at their job, very poor.

All the talk of him being naive, lacking committment etc. is counterproductive spin.

What a mess-up. I am gobsmacked at this.

One aspect of today’s decision is that public funds will have to be spent on another election.

I get the impression that George packed it in early on. He had very little to say for months.

He appears to have been better at reporting the news than coming forward with innovative proposals and he had a public platform that no other backbench TD had.

I have no reason to be negative about him. I was wondering before Christmas what had happened him and thought that he may be involved in developing policy.

It shouldn’t be forgotten, that for economic policy to work, there must be fundamental reform in governance, accountability, transparency, the public services and the private sector vested interest system.

@ Greg,

“Someone employed in the “Public Sector” has a guaranteed job/pension if it doesn’t work out”

It used to be that way, however over the last 10 years things have changed a lot.

It’s diffficult to get a permanent job anywhere now. As for Public sector pensions big changes are on the way, for the lower civil service of course, not the upper section of the civil service.

According to Leo Varadkar:
“There were 202,000 on the Live Register when Brian Cowen became Taoiseach. This has more than doubled to almost 437,000 under his tenure.”
In less than two years more than 200,000 people have lost their jobs and 60,000 have emigrated. If you think this is a national emergency you support George Lee. If you don’t, you oppose him. The insiders in FG, as in Ireland, will fight bitterly to keep their position. They don’t want to be in government. Too risky. Anyway, they agree with bailing out big bank investors and megadevelopers as NAMA does. Many of them or their supporters are little bank investors and little developers themselves so they stand to gain. Or their pension funds will gain. Or they hope – ever less every day – their own house will recover value.

Better to just cover everything up and drive away anyone who doesn’t cooperate in the cover up.

I wrote in the distant past about George Lee being a negative Moany Mary and this confirms it for me. He love bashing everything and I’d guess that he is poor at forming constructive policies. I know he is talented but some people are progressive and some people are observers and followers. This is also highlighted by the fact that he resigned without a plan of what he is going to do next.

@Michael Hennigan
He was gagged by Kenny in the NAMA debate.

“Sunday Business Post:
Sunday, January 03, 2010 – By Niamh Connolly, Political Correspondent
Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny is enjoying continued popularity in the polls, but some of his brightest backbenchers are showing signs of restlessness.

Judging by an interview with his shining star George Lee on RTE’s News at One last week, pressure on the Fine Gael leader in 2010 may not come from the polls, but from within Fine Gael’s ranks.

Lee may have taken Fine Gael to new heights of popularity during the Dublin South by-election last June, but last week he hinted that his newfound career had not delivered on his high hopes.

‘‘There is an extent to which I could say an awful lot more than I’ve been able to say,” he told RTE’s Gavin Jennings.

‘‘I could understand that people might say you get swallowed up – but I don’t think you get swallowed up by the party but by the Oireachtas system.”

The former RTE economics editor was especially frustrated at Fine Gael deciding to allocate him just ten minutes of a total 1,740 minutes to debate the crucial National Asset Management Agency (Nama) Bill in the Dáil.

‘‘Now I don’t think in any studio in RTE that anybody would assume they’d get away with giving me such a small proportion of the time on any particular subject relating to economics, because I’d have so much more to say. I could find that frustrating if that were to continue,” Lee added rather pointedly.”

Lee therefore publicly made known his unhappiness in early January. He wouldn’t go along with the establishment bailout and cover up. Therefore they gagged him. Enda Kenny is just a thinner Brian Cowen.

George Lee should be ashamed of himself. He achieved NOTHING in his short political career. Now the tax payer has to pay for a by election. He should foot the cost of this. He never had anything worthwhile to say. I attended a vary boring talk he gave and he had nothing constructive to say about the economy, an area he thought he specialised in. He continually said ‘we need to make a plan’ and when he was asked what would his plan consist of he couldn’t answer. USELESS. Shame on him for wasting the tax payers money. GOOD RIDDANCE.

George Lee was right when his full talent wasn’t being used to quit. The older generation are holding on to power and wont let go easily if not at all. He has exposed what is really happening in the Dail un less you sit their like a dumdie, they just dont want you. Here’s hoping he starts up the debate about the young people having a say? Independent Agricultural Corespondent Michael Flynn, Rathgormack,Waterford.

Isn’t it also very likely that, back in May 2009 when he quit RTE, he was convinced, as most of the media were, that the FF/Green government would fall in a few months and that he’d be riding in a Ministerial Mercedes by year end?

Now its quite likely that there won’t be an election until Spring 2102. Most probably, FG/Labour will win that election and George would have got his Ministerial Mercedes then. But, while lesser mortals, like Bruton, Coveney, Varadkar and others, might be willing to put in the hard slog required of an Opposition TD for a couple of years before the Spring 2012 election, in anticipation of obtaining their reward then, such a life would not be fitting for a superstar like George.

Anyway, I read today that the RTE greyhound racing correspondent has quit to set up an Irish version of Racing Post, so there might be a vacancy for George in RTE after all.

@Naomi, John of D and Jto
Be careful you don’t break anything getting down off your high moral horse.

I for one am disappointed George Lee is gone. It sends out a message to talented people to steer clear of politics when we certainly need more of them in there. We are now stuck with the dynasty version of politics.

Do you people deny that George Lee was warning us of what was to come back in 2007 when it was extremely unpopular to do so? What was your forecast back then John the Optimist? Were you one of the permagrowth brigade? What did you think of Lee, McWilliams and Kelly then? Because they were right! You may reckon we’re in for a major upturn but try chatting to a few people in business and I can tell you at this point in time there’s no sign of it yet.

George Lee is NOT a young person. He may not be redfaced with gluttony and over 60 but he is not young. I’m younger than him by a good bit and I’M not young. maybe it’s a symptom of an intergenerational war between those aroiund 60 and those around 50 😉

The Irish establishment ARE idiots. It is amply shown by their causing of an economic collapse and a banking collapse, their glacial reaction to it, their covering it up, their bailing out of themselves and their supporters through NAMA, their serial dishonesty about NAMA, their rigging of the bank inquiry to ensure the full truth doesn’t come out. Then there is their slashing the poor first approach: the cutting of welfare for the blind, disabled, widows, single mothers; cuts for the lowest paid civil servants while sparing the top; the planned cutting of the minimum wage and income taxes on those just above the minimum wage, water rates etc.

The Dail parties, RTE, many at the The Irish Times and much of the media are very much part of this establishment. They needed no help from George Lee, they are idiots. They are also cowardly, selfish, dishonest and reckless. We need another voice in the media – there are already several -who can tell truth to the Irish ruling class. Why not George Lee? Here is one way for The Irish Times to redeem itself: make George Lee a correspondent. He wants financial security so I would guess he won’t come cheap. But columns, investigations and podcasts by him would be a huge draw.

It’s time to rebrand The Irish Times as the paper of George Lee – not of

Irish establishment spin machine on full cycle:

John the optimist
“”Good riddance!
FG are far better off without him.
Under no circumstances should RTE have him back.
…George the Eternal Pessimist…”

“The way he left his RTE bosses looking like prize idiots…
…. his decision to flee the Fine Gael party – because he wasn’t getting his icecream now… suggests…he doesn’t appear to have the temperament for politics. For his own sake, it’s just as well that he has decided to go now”

“As people have noted above [the people being other establishment lobbyists] he made RTE look like idiots, he’s made FG look like idiots, and he’s made the people of South Dublin look somewhat like idiots.”

John of Dublin
“I wrote in the distant past about George Lee being a negative Moany Mary and this confirms it for me. He love bashing everything…”

“He never had anything worthwhile to say….he had nothing constructive to say about the economy, an area he thought he specialised in.

But my favourite spins were these ones from John the Optimist:
“My guess is that he quit because he clearly sees that the economy is on the brink of a major upturn and…simply couldn’t cope with it.”

“I think all the political parties will think twice now about foisting egomaniac economists on the electorate. Bang goes any possible political careers for David McWilliams, Morgan Kelly and others.”

Establishment spinner of the day award to JTO.

“I for one am disappointed George Lee is gone. It sends out a message to talented people to steer clear of politics when we certainly need more of them in there. We are now stuck with the dynasty version of politics.”
I agree with you and this is a terrible day for the possibility of upskilling the Dail. We will be waiting for the children of the children of present day politicians before any of them understand what the knowledge economy is. By then it will have passed us by. We have an electoral system that runs by inheritance with anointed successors making their way initially through the public service or the professions until such time as their seat is vacated for them.

Once they have served that time (probably with a good dose of local politics to harden their necks), they move up to the big trough, secure in the knowledge that the Seanad and disappointment money will feather their path should they falter. They are content to sit on their hands until they get their calling.

Talentless, useless, visionless, experienceless, ambitionless, the lot of them. A pox on their houses.

@ All,

The short-ness of Lee’s political career doesn’t bother me much. Especially, given the respect in which our elected officials in Ireland are held, by our vast bureaucratic army of civil servants. (Doesn’t something in the title civil servant, suggest, they aught to serve in some way?) None of the elected members of the Dail chamber are willing or able to take the struggle to our bureaucratic departments – or indeed, any of the bank-ing or build-ing industries beyond. I used to enjoy watching some of George Lee’s solo runs, even when he lost the ball.

As Pat Crerand, the Manchester United player said once, when asked if the career of George Best was too short. He said, he would rather bea spectator to one year of George Best’s football career, instead of 10 years of another average player’s career, which would bore the pants off of you to watch. Kind like Pete Sampras in tennis. At least George Lee, whenever on the field, gave the supporters some value for their admission tickets. I reckon that 9 months of George Lee’s political career was as good as 9 year of someone else’s.

But I did warn about this. This is how I deemed fit to address Mr. Karl Whelan yesterday evening:

If I was to think about this, from an implementation point of view, (put on my project manager’s hat) instead of from an economist point of view – the way I think about this, is based on civil servants I do know and their regard for the elected politicians in the Oireachtas. The attitude is, give the politicians a toy to go off and play with. That soaks up a week or two, banter-ing in the house of the Oireachtas. We all know how long the holidays of parliment are in Ireland. So it is by a succession of these tactics, that civil service departments ‘get through the year’, and avoid too much hassle with their bosses – the Irish State, in the form of elected ministers. Can we alter the dynamic To help achieve our end goal?

You economist guys need to fully understand both your strengths and your weaknesses. If economics wants to really make its presence felt in the real world, then look at the experience of education for students at university level. I wrote on this blog a while ago:

“I also felt sure that economists should study more dynamics systems – be they natural, mechanical, virtual or whatever. I often used air-conditioning systems in tall buildings as an example I am familiar with. Those 2 no. things, patient diagnosis and dynamic systems. Two areas where economists in general, simply don’t get enough practice.”

Intellectual Reference:

The Atlantic magazine article, Is Google Making Us Stupid? by Nicholas Carr, is worth a read. It looks at what the Internet is doing to our brains. Your job as economists should be to work with analogies more often, such as patient diagnosis and dynamic systems to develop robust models, to understand what exactly is going on in the world.


Having said all that..if every newbie TD, who wasn’t feeling fulfilled after 9 months in the job, was to quit there would be a lot of bye-elections I suspect.

@ Oliver Vandt, aka the schitzophrenic serial poster previously known as Eamon, E65bn, NAMA 65bn etc…

I’m an establishment spin machine/lobbyist now? The conspiracies never stop spinning up there in your head do they eh? If at some stage you’d like to address the actual issue, ie that George Lee has made idiots of FG/RTE/South Dublin constituents AND the taxpayer who will be funding another unnecessary bye-election, please do, but i’m guessing your inane and insane rambling won’t make it that far up the logic-tree.

The simple facts are as follows:

George Lee walked out on RTE with reasonable question marks over the potential for conflict of interests in his reporting towards the end of his tenure there.
George Lee has walked out on FG after only 9 months into his role there, apparently not realising that politics in this country involves a long hard slog and a good deal of patience (even if Kenny has underused Lee massively and foolishly). He has dangerously undermined the leadership position of Kenny, and the general stature of FG.
George Lee has walked out on the good constituents of South Dublin only 8 months after they used their democratic vote to sweep him into power with a populist mandate few politicians in this country have ever been granted in recent memory.
Finally, George Lee has walked out on his duties to the rest of this country by preferring not to serve the public interest when clearly given the opportunity to do so, an opportunity 99.9% of the population will never get, and at a time of unprecedented economic turmoil. He has instead subjected us to another costly and pointless election cycle, whilst at the same time hoping to go back to his vastly overpaid public sector job.

@ Greg

“I knew it applied to teachers (which I think is a disgrace).

So someone in the employed in private sector entering politics has to put their career/job on the line.

Someone employed in the “Public Sector” has a guaranteed job/pension if it doesn’t work out.”

Is it really a disgrace that some people have the opportunity to take sabbatical leave? Many private sector companies offer this too. Lots of people use it to travel the world or do similar once-in-a-lifetime things. It’s a nice perk and would be (marginally) relevant if, say, you were comparing the total packages of two different employees, but its mere existence doesn’t strike me as somehow wrong.

Actually, a lot of companies that offer this are currently very keen that people take it, because it reduces the wage bill without redundancies.


@Stuart Blythman

“Do you people deny that George Lee was warning us of what was to come back in 2007 when it was extremely unpopular to do so? What was your forecast back then John the Optimist? Were you one of the permagrowth brigade? What did you think of Lee, McWilliams and Kelly then? Because they were right! You may reckon we’re in for a major upturn but try chatting to a few people in business and I can tell you at this point in time there’s no sign of it yet.”

I certainly don’t believe that there is any such thing as permagrowth. It is like saying that Manchester United are permaPremierLeagueChampions. Desirable, but unrealistic. Instead, what we have is long long periods (often many decades) of economic growth, punctuated by relatively short periods (a year or two) of economic contraction (just as we have long long periods of Manchester United winning the Premiership, punctuated by relatively short periods when they don’t).

As for predicting when the periods of economic contraction will occur, well those that you mention forecast every year that they are about to occur, so they are bound to be right occasionally. McWilliams was predicting an imminent economic crash as early as 1998. Even those fools who predict every year that Arsenal will win the Premiership are bound to be right one day (although I hope I’m not around when they are).

As for the upturn, there are clear signs pointing in that direction:

(1) The monthly ESRI/KBC index of consumer confidence was published today. It showed its biggest monthly increase since 2004.

(2) New car sales are way up in February. In January they showed a modest increase of just under 5% compared with January 2009. But, in the first week of February, the figures were:

1st week of Feb 2009: 1,955
1st week of Feb 2010: 2,879 – an increase of 47.3%

and for commercial vehicles, the figures were:

1st week of Feb 2009: 283
1st week of Feb 2010: 505 – an increase of 78.4%

Obviously, two swallows don’t make a summer and I certainly wouldn’t say that these figures alone ensure an upturn. But, they are certainly positive signs pointing in that direction and something to build on. What is necessary is for the Goverment to get off its backside and highlight these indicators, both to raise confidence among consumers in Ireland and among international investors.

By the way, Stuart, as I know you are in retail, my prediction in December that the level of cross-border shopping would see a sharp decline in early 2010 appears to be coming true. A couple of surveys of economic activity in N. Ireland in the past couple of weeks have painted a less rosy picture of the N. Ireland economy and given that as one of the main reasons. They did speculate that the decline in cross-border shopping was due to the arctic weather. But, in my opinion, this is wishful thinking on their part. We are 39 days into the new year, and road conditions to the border were only affected by snow and ice for 8 to 10 of those days. A far more likely explanation is that it is due to a 12% to 15% narrowing of the price differential between north and south of the border, resulting from a combination of lower inflation south of the border and a small rebound for sterling.

@Oliver Vandt

“Establishment spinner of the day award to JTO.”

I accept your award. It is a great honour. Thank you.

I’m not actually a member of the Establishment, being a humble salaried employee of an American multi-national. But, if the Establishment would like to send me a cheque in recognition of services rendered, I will gladly accept that too.

@ WoW,

I was gobsmacked when Mr George Lee joined Fine Gael.

I am not gobsmacked now that he has left them.

While there are quite a few interesting comments being thrown about on this forum no doubt the full truth will come out in the long run.

The plot thickens…..

It’s ok to hide behind Anonymity and take cheap bar stool pot shots? Online residents of Garradrimna squint through tawdry curtains of self-congradulatory commentary.

I think it sad that somebody with passion, intelligence and commitment bows out of politics after 9 months. We need more people of George’s ilk in politics not less. He deserves some credit for realising he made a wrong career choice after a short period. He is not be the first and won’t be the last.
He should be able to go back to RTE to take up a role similar to his previous job. Perhaps something like “The Week in Politics ” would suit hime best. He would at least be impartial in that he probably won’t have a good word to say about either of the big parties.

For FG it is a bit of a disaster for the now accident prone leader who looks like he has led FG as far as he can.

Lastly, I must agree with JTO. There are some signs of improvement in the economy even though we are currently lapping a disasterous Q1 09.
The governemnt got a budget through has obviously has engendered a sense of confidence and some spending by the electorate.
Post the budget our credit spreads have narrowed and the banks have even managed toborrow longer term. We have decoupled from Greece and are converging toward Portugal
The US economy appears to be recovering as in the UK.
Sterling is falling.
Nowwhether this is short lived or a dead cat bounce time will tell.
Suddenly, not everthing is gloomy. We need more JTO on this site to iffset the doom pornsters.


How many companies over time off indefinitely. That is until you loose your Dail seat?

Just one will do. I’ll get a job there.

Bond. Eoin Bond…

“I’m an establishment spin machine/lobbyist now?”

I’ll take that any day over being a schitzophrenic.


I was going to start a petition for the moderator to start cleaning out jto rants. And then you go and spoil it all by praising him. I give up. maybe I can do it a different way: if this blog pretends to proper economics can we automatically delete all posts that (a) make economic forecasts or at least (b) bin all posts that claim their last forecast was correct within 5 minutes of making said forecast.

Overall, a bad day for politics. Many people hoped that GL would bring new thinking and energy to the Dail and political system. He was right to jack it in – nine months is more than enough time to get the lie of the land. More power to him for resigning from both FG and the Dail.

I agree entirely with Bond Eoin Bond. Sadly, George Lee has made a fool of himself – did he think he was going to be like Jesus coming to save us all from damnation? I would love to know exactly what he thought he could have achieved in those 8 months since he was elected. Has he never heard of the phrase including the words “Rome”, “built” and “day”. If it came to a show down between him or Brian Lenihan as Minister for Finance, I know who I would choose. He’s a nice fellow and everything, but not really at the races..

“The former RTE economics editor was especially frustrated at Fine Gael deciding to allocate him just ten minutes of a total 1,740 minutes to debate the crucial National Asset Management Agency (Nama) Bill in the Dáil.”
Half of one per cent of the time, for FG’s best weapon and a guaranteed crowd drawer in a Dail of non-entities. This was no accident. Bruton and Kenny arranged it that way. The Irish establishment always claim it’s a massive entirely unintentional blunder. They always accuse their critics of conspiracy theory. Charles Haughey did the same. Lee wouldn’t go along with the establishment bailout and cover up. Therefore they gagged him.

@chris johns

I was going to start a petition for the moderator to start cleaning out jto rants. And then you go and spoil it all by praising him. I give up. maybe I can do it a different way: if this blog pretends to proper economics can we automatically delete all posts that (a) make economic forecasts or at least (b) bin all posts that claim their last forecast was correct within 5 minutes of making said forecast.

If you read my posts above more carefully, you will see that I haven’t actually made any economic forecasts on this thread.

I have simply given factual information regarding two sets of data that were published today (consumer confidence and new car sales), both of which are positive signs for a possible upturn. However, I haven’t said that they guarantee an upturn, and I emphasised that the Government needs to highlight them to boost confidence further.

Are you suggesting that such factual information should not be posted?


The truth indeed.

Most of the Fine Gale comment I’ve heard on the radio seemed genuinely taken aback.

Kenny issued a statement …. he was “deeply saddened”.

I think Lee and Kenny had a massive bust up.

Lee worked out that Kenny is a complete lightweight.

Fianna Fail will have him for breakfast when the time comes.

As you say,

The thick plotens.


‘Instead, what we have is long long periods (often many decades) of economic growth, punctuated by relatively short periods (a year or two) of economic contraction’

How many times in this country’s economic history has this pattern been observed? I’m not a particularly keen student of economic history but I would guess never….. would be happy to be corrected though.

@ E65bn

“many at the The Irish Times and much of the media are very much part of this establishment.”

This would be the same Irish Times that has granted fairly unprecedented access to its opinion pages to Professors Kelly, Whelan & Lucey, as well as Messrs Beggs & O’Connor, with weekly pieces by Hacks Browne, O’Toole etc etc etc? I just want to make sure im not reading the wrong paper.

I was at this talk on 21st October 2009.

At the end of the night several people, including myself, approached George Lee. Fittingly enough he was the only Oireachtas representative who bothered to turn up. Naturally – given the nature of the meeting – we all complained that not enough was being done by FG on NAMA and strongly urged (some might say attacked!) him to do more himself. His unhappiness RADIATED from him. He loyally defended his party, saying that the Green convention was the place to stop it and that he had been allowed to do some radio interviews. However, his discomfort was projected with unmistakable force.

Anyone in the FG parliamentary party who says they didn’t know of his dissatisfaction is being completely dishonest. And no one can be completely dishonest as plausibly as a politician.


JTO has a point. I did not realise that it was compulosry on this site to keep saying that a) the economy was doomed to a decade of debt deflation b) it would never recover again c) NAMA was the greates perfidy committed on the irish people since the Brits exported all the corn during the famine d) FF=satan.

I find it strange that I find something to agree on with JTO. Who knows, I may even agree with Ernie Ball.

@ Brian Flanagan

“Yes, by people who won’t identify themselves.”

Eh, how does that make any sense? Factual information is factual information regardless of who posts it.

What an abuse of democracy. The right to vote is a fundamental of democracy. The right to be elected as a representative of those entitled to vote is a privilege – abused today by Mr Lee. He could have spoken out… did he? He could have resigned the party and gone Independent or joined or started a party. He could have learned that you don’t play in the first team until you earn your stripes. He could have treated his voters with respect. He wasn’t a fighter obviously so Dail Eireann is hardly losing anyone useful. Minister O’Dea was, more prescient than most last week in his description of Mr Lee. Let’s hope his media colleagues show more appetite for work than he did and so devour the Lee of our own lovely (not) Banks.

@ Kevin Denny,

“Having said all that..if every newbie TD, who wasn’t feeling fulfilled after 9 months in the job, was to quit there would be a lot of bye-elections I suspect.”

I don’t know if that was addressed to me. Don’t fool yourself Kevin. Mr. Lee isn’t any average politician.

All I am asking of my politicians is they should not allow themselves to be used in any way as puppits by the senior civil servants of the Irish state. Because, from my limited understanding of how democracy works, it in turn means, the people themselves are being used as puppits. As an honorable man, Mr. Lee, could not in good conscious allow his initial aggreement (gentleman’s or otherwise) to be undermined or disrespected.

Political parties should not use their celebrity party members to be used as puppits. George Lee gave Mr. Kenny, leader of Fine Gael, a clear and distinct warning about this from the beginning. (When Fine Gael first came pursuing the services of Mr. Lee, not the other way around)

There is too much of circular, institutional-ised puppet-eer-ing going on. With many elected representatives bending over backways to fulfill their roles as puppets. A significant portion of the elected representatives class, have defined it as their role and function to become puppets. In doing so, they mis-understand their task. There must come some point, where the counter-movement occur.

I.e. Where the people of this island, elect their representatives, to perform a job, and in turn the civil apparatus of the state, serves this master. Not the other way around.

Is there any other member of the current elected Dail willing to stand down from their position? Is there any other member of the current Dail, who can honestly say to their people, Hey guys, I wish I could lie to you, but really I am not confident I can deliver meaningful progress, to help all of you and your situation(s). Is there any other currently elected member of the Dail Eireann, willing to be that honest?


@Oliver Vandt

Did it ever occur to you that FG actually thinks NAMA is not such a bad thing? They have not been forceful enough in putting forward alternatives if they think it is so terrible. Is their game plan to let NAMA go ahead so that they can use its probably lack of immediate success for their benefit to get into power in the next general election? Kenny is insipid. It is impossible to imagine him as leader of this great country. I dread the day if it ever happens. GL has come across all apologetic etc but the reality is that he did not have the gumption to make a difference – why did he not take the front bench position…seriously? He has the wrong temperament for politics so at least we can thank him for facing up to that reality.

@brian o hanlon: I don’t know why you imagine that remark was addressed to you & I have no interest in fooling anyone , myself included. My point was (in case it wasn’t blindly obvious) that probably lots of new TDs are frustrated at the start of their jobs, like many people in other jobs. Some times you just have to stick with it, accept your time on the sidelines, learn your trade. There have been lots of exceptional people in the Dail & many could have quit for similar reasons but didn’t. Maybe George was right to bail early, I don’t know.

We cannot have good government good public services or good quality of life until we have a healthy economy it provides the jobs the taxes the money that keeps everything running. we will never have a healthy economy while people with no relavent experience or knowledge are in charge . We need people like George Lee. The Dail is full of solicitors teachers or social workers making decisions that will affect this country for years to come God help us.

Kenny is going to have to get a new mandate to lead.

If he doesn’t he is damaged goods and will ensure that FF get elected the next time round.

@ John the Anonymous
“my prediction in December that the level of cross-border shopping would see a sharp decline in early 2010 appears to be coming true. A couple of surveys of economic activity in N. Ireland in the past couple of weeks have painted a less rosy picture of the N. Ireland economy and given that as one of the main reasons. They did speculate that the decline in cross-border shopping was due to the arctic weather. But, in my opinion, this is wishful thinking on their part.”

“Factual information is factual information regardless of who posts it.”


@ Brian Flanagan

do you have an issue with factual information or with considered opinions? Because at this moment in time you’re moaning about anonymously posted factual information rather than opinions. Make up your mind.

On the seperate but related issue of anonymity (an issue which has been dealt with before on here, but oh well…) – i work for an international bank, and JtO says he works for a US multinational. Im unwilling to post under my real name as i doubt my employer would always be particularly happy about me being as candid as i try to be on here, particularly in threads that deal with either the government, the banking sector or with NAMA. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand this, but you seem to have trouble with it for some unknown and poorly communicated (ie my first couple of lines above) reason? If the moderators dont have a problem with it, why do you? Also, apparently its ok to come on here and slander various members of FF, or bankers, or anyone who is perceived to be at blame for our economic problems, but yet your attention appears to be focused only on the anonymous posters who have slightly less pessimistic views of either the economy or NAMA. Somewhat curious no?

From Max Weber’s “Politics as a vocation”:

“Politics is a strong and slow boring of hard boards. It takes both passion and perspective. Certainly all historical experience confirms the truth–that man would not have attained the possible unless time and again he had reached out for the impossible. But to do that a man must be a leader, and not only a leader but a hero as well, in a very sober sense of the word. And even those who are neither leaders nor heroes must arm themselves with that steadfastness of heart which can brave even the crumbling of all hopes. This is necessary right now, or else men will not be able to attain even that which is possible today. Only he has the calling for politics who
is sure that he shall not crumble when the world from his point of view is too stupid or too base for what he wants to offer. Only he who in the face of all this can say ‘In spite of all!’ has the calling for politics.”

Would have been a good christmas present for George methinks.

@Brian Flanagan
I’m Brian Flanagan and so is my wife.

Who is Brian Flanagan?

I’m not trying to have a dig, but it kind of pointless looking for ‘real’ identities from unverified sites. Anyone could claim to be anyone, with the possible exceptions of some of the registered bloggers of the site. Everyone else is either who they claim to be or someone else. Nobody can tell with any accuracy. The best one can hope for is that the nom de plumes stay coherent so you can always tell it is the same person you are arguing with.

“Kenny is going to have to get a new mandate to lead.

If he doesn’t he is damaged goods and will ensure that FF get elected the next time round.”

Good point Greg. But I for one, don’t think I can ever again, look at the Fine Gael party, in the same way as I did, up until this moment. I certainly would have gone out of my way to vote Fine Gael in the next general election – which is saying something, since I would always give the Greens a vote, being interested in their direction. That is what George Lee’s membership in FG meant to myself as a citizen.

I don’t mind so much that George’s career didn’t last. Being frank, I didn’t pin too much hopes that his career would last. But the manner in which it ended. Yeah, being honest about it, this is the last time I’ll ever look at FG again. Having said that, I still wish them well in the next election, and those who still believe in the party. I just don’t understand what they are about any more. They have great young members in the Dublin area I know, where I work, and I wish them all well.

I am not simple minded enough to think, that every newbie TD, celebrity or otherwise should be pandered to, and mammy-ied in any way, at all. There is nothing wrong at all with Olivia Mitchell’s summation of things on the Six One News tonight. I thought she was very fair. But I do think that Fine Gael as a party have blown it, to be frank. They didn’t estimate for the capacity of George Lee as a member to swing huge votes in the direction of their party – even in constituencies like West Limerick, where I vote – a million miles away from Mr. Lee’s South Dublin area.

The ‘George Lee factor’ amongst young people especially, was worth at least 1,000 votes in every electoral area, for the Fine Gael party, where Mr. Lee wasn’t even local to.


@James Conran
Good to cite Weber – particularly in the light of the following

“The experience of being elected to Dail Eireann for the first time is quite a shock to the system and, I suppose, every new TD is prepared to some extent for that shock…My judgement put succinctly is this: Dail Eireann which is the very heart of democracy is at heart in failure. Dail Eireann isn ‘t working; it is failing the people. As a legislature, it is hopelessly inadequate and slow; as a forum for debate it is irrelevant in many respects; as an organ of the popular will, it is atrophied and increasingly non-functioning. ”
Michael McDowell, speech 7 July 1987.

Plus ca change, plus c’est las meme chose

@ Anon Bond

I have trouble with anonymous opinions like John the Anonymous’s prediction which are lumped in with selective facts. Also, I don’t think that it is right in a “pofessional” forum for people here have a good go at George Lee while hiding behind pseudo names.

@John the Optimist

… glad to see all those quailfiers and qualifications appearing …. looks like u mighta dropped by speksavers – doze establisment lenses really suit you!

@ Ahura Mazda

‘Prior to George Lee, who was the last person to resign from the Dail on a point of principle?’

Ray Burke in 1997 claimed that he was resigning on a point of principle. Although I’m not sure many would agree!!! Prior to that you’re probably going back to Kevin Boland in 1970 who resigned his seat in protest at Jack Lynch’s Northern policy. Ironically the constituency in question was South County Dublin, a sort of earlier version of the current Dublin South constituency! Some may cite Pat Cox who did resign his seat in 1994 but he only agreed to do this in the event that he got re-elected to the European Parliament and he held true to this. Most resignations from the Dáil are as a result of being appointed to another office (e.g. Euro Commissioner) or ocassionally as a result of ill-health. So Kevin Boland is probably the answer to your question.

On George Lee himself my own view is that his decision to enter politics was disastrous both for him and for FG. He was wholly unsuited to it, something that I think was evident from the very begining and was emphasised by the manner of his resignation today. He never made the transition from commentator to legislator. I also feel that he was temperamentally unsuited to the role. There is also the matter that some of his pronouncements contradicted long established FG policy.

For George Lee himself the sad thing now is that in the space of a year (or less) he has gone from holding a position that he clearly enjoyed and was succesful in to being an outcast as he cannot be reappointed to his former position (or anything similar) without a significant period in quarantine. He has effectively surrendered his position with very little in return. However he clearly has the talent to carve out some niche for himself in the media and doubtless will do so in times to come.

I agree that this whole episode does raise questions about our political system and its ability to attract people from outside the existing political structure to government but I’m afraid in George’s case it was always destined to end like this regardless of the failings and frailties of the system.

@John The Optimist
I reckon cross border shopping is dropping for the reasons you mentioned – increased VAT in North and strengthening of Sterling. So we agree there.
New car sales are up but then this is a fantastic time to buy a car when they are giving serious cash to people to do so – most manufacturers are matching the governments scrappage scheme allowance.
Otherwise January was not a good month figures wise, we’ll see what the rest of the year brings.

My point is some of the comments about George Lee are viscious. he has a particular view of where the economy was and is today. He was right 2 years ago whether lucky or not. We’ll find out in time who is right now. He’s probably in for a savage time based on what is written here and that should be enough to put off others following his decision to stand for election. I believe the country will be worse off as a result. I’m fed up with the dynasties and nepotisim in Irish politics but it doesn’t look like it will change.

PS I’ve no problem with anonymity, I used to work for a large plc and they love spin too and would disapprove of employees making comments on blogs such as this. I welcome the likes of Eoin and Jto commenting along with others. If they do work for the government or foreign spies so be it.

Personally away from the spin doctors and the media both optimistic and gloomy the people I meet and know in business are still serious

BTW, qualification to above: I don’t in any way feel hostile towards Mr. Enda Kenny either. I am disappointed for Mr. Kenny as a leader. I wouldn’t have wished it upon him, to have stepped on this land mine. His work, in giving a voice towards those young men and women who have to emigrate from Ireland now, as been admirable in my view. Mr. Kenny has had many different things to deal with, and has gone about his job, with the Lisbon Treaty and everything else.

In fact, I believe the problem with Mr. Kenny, is he would have been better off, and for the Fine Gael party, if he had been a lazy so-and-so. It might have meant, he took better stock of what was happening within his Dail members party. Still though, lets not undermine the huge achievements of Mr. Kenny over the last number of years. It was a gutsy performance by any standards, and even parties in the North, are keen to model themselves on the ‘renewed Irish FG party’. That is a complement.

Like I said, it just goes to show you the number of ways in which a political leader – any political leader can slip up.

Intellectual reference: Linus Torvalds, leader of the open source software Linux project since the early 1990s. Who once referred to the fact he was lazy, being responsible for his success over such a long period of time, in holding together a group of software engineers on such a huge and ambitious project. Being a lazy man, he was very inclined to deligate out to individuals, responsibility for various aspects of the project. Contrast that to Richard M. Stallman, who did most of the donkey work to begin with – but whose leadership style simply didn’t fit into an internet again, whereby Linus Torvalds could marshall such a vast un-tapped workforce. The Cathedral and the Bazaar, by Eric S. Raymond, a book which many young aspiring politicians might like to read, along with Torvald’s fittingly titled autobiographical novel, Just for Fun. BOH.

@Brian Flanagan
Thanks for the linky-link…
… looking through your business blog now! (Have some interest).
Course, that’s if it really is you….

@ Brian Flanagan

“I have trouble with anonymous opinions like John the Anonymous’s prediction which are lumped in with selective facts.”

You had two choices:
1. write a reply to JtO with your own facts and opinions
2. complain that JtO was posting anonymously.

You’ve chosen the rather easy option there no?

“Also, I don’t think that it is right in a “professional” forum for people here have a good go at George Lee while hiding behind pseudo names.”

People the length and breadth of the country are tonight discussing the hyper-short political career of George Lee, many of them no doubt complaining about Lee, or FG, or both, for fairly rational and reasonable reasons (even if you disagree with them), surrounding a fairly unprecedented situation (Lee’s political career), at a time of unprecedented economic crisis. I, for example, have detailed why i think George Lee has made lots of different sets of people look like idiots, and why he has let down his constituents (even if he had honest reasons for this). Again, you are left with two options:

1. defend George Lee with a rebuttal to my, and others, points.
2. complain about people “having a go” when they are using anonymous names.

Again, you have decided on the rather easy option there.

Your knee jerk reaction to something you disagree with seems to be to complain about it “not being right” (whatever that is supposed to mean) and trying to shut down discussion on the back of the now jaded “anonymity” debate. Try debating the points raised rather than attacking the people raising them.

Me thinks the juice has been sucked dry from this discussion thread!!!

Edgar, et al;
Perhaps the consequences of this, if there are any, can be broken up into individual threads that would exclude some of the ranting above.

For example:

Economists in a political environment and the dangers therein…

Testicular fortitude, endogenous or exogenous???

I can only imagine what is like tonight.
No offense intended to any posters above.
Including myself


@ Michael,

“On George Lee himself my own view is that his decision to enter politics was disastrous both for him and for FG. He was wholly unsuited to it, something that I think was evident from the very begining and was emphasised by the manner of his resignation today. He never made the transition from commentator to legislator. I also feel that he was temperamentally unsuited to the role. There is also the matter that some of his pronouncements contradicted long established FG policy.”

There is a lot in what you say Michael, very well put. But who the heck, in the Fine Gael party is responsible for thinking Mr. Lee was just like them – i.e. career Dail members? Like Olivia Mitchell, Michael Noonan, Enda himself etc.

It would not take a genius to appreciate the fact that Mr. Lee is an un-bending idealist. That is what in effect drives the man. You are absolutely correct. For whatever small (or not so small) amount of extra support that Fine Gael built up, by having Mr. Lee on their side. They would be better off now, if Mr. Lee had never joined the party.

I compared Ireland’s situation in Mr. Tol’s thread to that of The Donner Party as explained in the PBS TV documentary.

George Lee is a logical enough, and wise man, to know Ireland’s situation. To appreciate the fact that time is a lot more valueable than money right now. Even if the plain vanilla Dail deputies don’t sense that yet, Mr. Lee is able to see the entire journey the country has to endure. It is simply not good enough, given Ireland’s exceptional circumstances, of peril and risk of total annihilation, to expect Mr. Lee to sit around and wait for the usual rules of the trade that politics is, to apply. That was naive on Fine Gael’s party. You simply don’t go out and hire the specialist gun and expect him to fall in with the rest of the wagon train, like a decent pilgrim.


@ Donal

a very insightful post from “Nick” way back when on that link…

“Nick Says:
May 5th, 2009 at 11:24 pm

Our electoral system, with it’s multi-seat constituencies, does not lend itself to having people of conviction and vision on the national issues being able to bring about real and meaningful change. Should he get elected it may not be long before George realises this. While I agree that having people like George in public office is a fantastic way to go, the system just doesn’t allow for them to be able to do anything. He is entering a 5 seat constituency which already has 2 FG TDs. At the next general election how likely is it that all 3 of them would be re-elected? At that stage there will probably be a strong Labour candidate, and at least one of the remaining government TDs would probably nab a seat (although I admit that FF will be running a newbie given Kitt is standing aside). It will come down to the FGer that will get whatever remaining potholes there may be in Stillorgan filled!! Could someone with the drive, vision and capability that George has be able to stick out the drudgery of the parish-pump???”

@ Bond Eoin,

“a very insightful post from “Nick” way back when on that link…

“Nick Says:
May 5th, 2009 at 11:24 pm”

Brilliantly spotted!

Thanks a million for picking that post about. BOH.

@Bond Eoin Bond

I think you are mixingg up Dublin South with Kerry south. Dublin south is probably the one constituency in the country where constitency work does not generate much kudos. This is the area which sent Liz O’Donnell to the Dail. Her idea of a clinic was a place to pick up a prescription.

@John The Optimist
You said you expected to see a sharp rise in consumer confidence in the six months after May 09 – thanks to the absence of George Lee.

“On the bright side, with no more nightly appearances from Dr. Doom, I’d expect to see a sharp rise in consumer confidence in the next six months.”

So you, Eoin, Veronica, Conchubar, Zhou, Joseph and the rest of the establishment really do believe that our economic and banking collapse is due to negative commentary, and Lehmans, rather than the bursting of a lending bubble that was always doomed to burst.

In that case the country truly is doomed and NAMA will be a giant transfer of wealth from the public to bank investors and developers.

Amazing that everyone is so surprised that someone in the country actually followed through on his words and did what he said he would do. He went into the Dail to make a difference, discovered a bunch of people hanging around posturing while waiting for the next election to drop into their laps. He realised what a talking shop the Dail was and worse and decided to get out while he still had integrity. He will do far more outside the chamber than he will inside!

Pat Kenny on the Frontline was telling him, he could have been a contender, he could have done this deal and that deal and in 4 years down the road a, ministerial pension. You could almost see Pat’s eyes glazing over. Lee was not having any of it. His response was it is now we need action not personal game plans for furthering one’s career.

I have underestimated George Lee. Is John the Optimist really Noel Whelan?

@ Robert Browne,

I think you are correct Robert. I watched The Frontline program for myself. I think that George’s comments about the present, the here and the now, speak volumes in favour of his grasp of Ireland’s situation. Whether that is down to Mr. Lee’s training as an economist, and being able to see the big picture. (as could McWilliams, Morgan Kelly and so on) Or whether Mr. Lee’s own personality leads him to realise that Ireland’s opportunities are slipping away daily. I don’t know if it is one or the other, or some combination of both.

But I do know one thing. I have listened and read to at least 50 no. different points of view this evening. They all seem to be telling Mr. Lee, as an individual – George, it is about the long term, it is about jostling into the right position. As if this was a horse race and Mr. Lee was Lester Piggot on a Vincent O’Brien trained derby winner, with a quarter mile to go.

What George Lee is saying, is that Ireland, as a nation and as economy, has already ran it’s race. It is now about how we can all group together, how all parties can conduct themselves in a different way, to use the larger resource that is Dail Eireann, that was granted to us, by those founding fathers, to figure out where we are going to be, come the next derby. How can Ireland pick the best bloodstock, and have it in shape, to mount the next challenge?

By bloodstock, I mean, the various kinds of embryonic economics that Ireland can institute today, without minister Brian Lenehan’s objection(s) – such as National-isation etc being too large, too cumbersome and too expensive. The seeds that we can plant today, in the soil, in Ireland could and would become the oak trees, within 2 no. years time. Even with Fine Gael in opposition, there is nothing to stop Ireland doing something today, except our own lack of vision. I spoke about this at my Designcomment blog, because I have spent time in the real trenches of the economy and I know.

BTW, I did like David Farrell’s (he made a contribution on tonights The Frontline) points in his recent Irish Times article, which I commented on recently at the Irish Economy blog site.

It is a fair point, and I do take his point. But, listening to the Dail coverage on RTE’s website the other evening, I heard Ms. Coughlan, Tanaiste, mention that the Irish state is the single largest employer we have. That was something new to me, thinking of the state in terms of it, as an actual employer.

I feel certain, that as Dail deputies struggle to fulfill duties as state employers, and work with their own constituents, there mustn’t be much time left over in the week/month or year, for much else.

So how can we logically expect so many miracles of government?


BTW, my mandatory intellectual’s reference on the above: Frederick P. Brooks, various writings such as The Mythical Man Month. Brooks was a project manager at IBM, on something called the IBM 360 project, which cost roughly the same in economic terms, as the Manhattan project funded by the US government during WWII. The IBM 360 project, revolutionised computing, in that it created 1 no. operating system which could span across all of the product lines made by IBM at the time. Previously, each separate product, required its own operating system.

Brooks insight into project management is useful, in that every project has a budget. The key thing to remember, is the budget isn’t always money, but could be all kinds of things, and a combination. In the days of computing at IBM, the computers could be sold for a million dollars a piece in the market. Money was less of a budget problem, but computer memory was a problem.

In any project, Ireland’s current predicament included, it is importantly that we do not mis-understand the concept of a budget. In other words, to mis-define it in terms fo money, instead of time. The politicians at Dail Eireann do appear to be willingfully spending that precious budget of time as if it was unimportant. That is why I referenced The Donner Party as an example, where they missed the crossing over the Sierra Nevada mountains by only one day.

If George Lee’s department today, and subsequent comments have any bearing at all, on changing our party’s perception of our situation, then it will have been all worth it. BOH.

@ Joe Lawlor

fair point. However, i feel GL saw himself as a US Senator rather than a US Congressman, with national rather than local priorities, when the reality probably required a focus on both. As previously suggested, i don’t think he was willing to do a 5 or 10 yr local slog waiting to get the chance to enact real change at a national level. Cleary Enda Kenny still saw Richard Bruton as his point man on economic matters, and GL was unwilling to wait for this situation to change.

David O’Donnell

Michael Flynn Rathgormack Waterford
Stuart Blythman
Oliver Vandt
Ahura Mazda
joe lawlor
Well said!

kevin denny
It might be very good news! I met him at the DIRT tribunal ……. he may know what he is doing! Might he stand again, as an independent? Slaughtering all other candidates? He might then extend an invitation to others who are honest and hard working, to join him in clearing out the stables? Some commentators, even in detraction of him, evaluated him as a vote getter.

So be it! Let us have a real opposition and real freedom of information in this little country!

The speed and emotion behind the other comments on this thread says a lot!!!

This man appears to have magic! Strange what a truthspeaker can do!

I suggest that JTO et al redouble their vituperation! He might come back!

Is it true George gets a lump sum payoff (15k is the speculation) after such a short time as a TD and walks straight back into 150k salary at RTE? It must make difficult decisions a bit easier to make?

@ Joseph

“Is it true George gets a lump sum payoff”

Please tell me this is a joke? If you quit your job, “mid contract”, why should you be entitled to anything???

Having slept on this, there are 2 no. policy challenges/directions I would identify for Dail Eireann as a political structure, which will either suffer or not, in future, as a result of the economist George Lee leaving the stage. I will mention both of these policy challenges, because I do believe, for Dail Eireann to deal with them adequately requires the insight of someone with sufficient technical/economic training and knowledge. I don’t mean a civil servant, a consultant etc – but someone directly in the chamber of Dail Eireann itself.

The first policy challenge, is the national spatial strategy. Something which the various land and construction professionals of this country found dis-favorable when introduced a few years ago. I replied to Greg at the ‘Mortgage Modifications’ thread:

“Okay, on the sustainable/green meme – lets blow it up to the scale of Ireland as an island, and see what the real planners and thinkers are doing (not guys such as me). The Futures Academy at DIT, Bolton Street, is one such collection of academic thinkers, who pose an interesting counterpoint to things such as the national spatial strategy.”

It is crucial to Ireland’s competitiveness as an economy, that we are able to debate such matters intelligently, in the Dail chamber itself, with members involved who are no career politicians – i.e. 30 no. years of experience such as Richard Bruton etc. The Greens are there I know, but I wouldn’t trust the discussion to go anywhere, without some notable counterpoint to the Greens. So that everyone can raise their game a bit.


@Oliver Vandt

“@John The Optimist. You said you expected to see a sharp rise in consumer confidence in the six months after May 09 – thanks to the absence of George Lee. You (ie JTO) said: ‘On the bright side, with no more nightly appearances from Dr. Doom, I’d expect to see a sharp rise in consumer confidence in the next six months.’”

WOW! Did I really predict that? I had totally forgotten. But, it turns out to have been one of the best forecasts ever made. Whether by co-incidence or not, the ESRI/KBC monthly consumer confidence index for January was published yesteday. The figures since George Lee quit RTE in May are:

May 2009 45.5 << (George Lee departs RTE)
Jun 2009 53.4
Jul 2009 49.5
Aug 2009 48.7
Sep 2009 49.6
Oct 2009 54.2
Nov 2009 53.6
Dec 2009 53.3
Jan 2010 64.6

The other major policy challenge, which I believe demands input from non-career type of politicians, involved in the debate within the Dail chamber, is something best described by Zhou_Enlai in this comment recently.

“Thanks for the link to the GF [Garrett Fitzgerald] article. His point is certainly valid and there is little coherent political analysis of why our system of democracy and governance was a critical factor in destroying competitiveness. It is notable that computer professionals did not experience the same wage inflation after the dot com bust and this may be why that sector remained competitive. Also, computer professionals were not lured to building sites and other well paid low skilled jobs like manufacturing workers were.”

Zhou_Enlai was referring to a link I provided to Garret Fitzgerald’s recent Irish Times article, Inquiry needed into how economy lost competitiveness. I don’t know if this point of GF’s relates back in some way to my above point on the national spatial strategy or not. But I feel there must be some connection between the two.

I believe both of these important policy making challenges have received a set back following the exit of George Lee from the Dail. I am sorry to hear that Mr. Lee’s input was not desired nor utilised. Shame on the political establishment in Ireland, shame on them.


Thanks Michael,

So we’d need to go back 40yrs to find another uncompromising idealist. I listened to a number of politicians yesterday and many mentioned that George Lee could have had a long political career ahead. I think too many TDs are “career” politicians. The quality and energy of the majority of TDs are poor.

I take your points on Lee, though I’d place more responsibility on the FG leadership. Kenny should have met and agreed a role for Lee prior to Lee’s candidacy. A Happy Lee would have been a good vote getter for FG. Having been elected, it seems crazy not to get him involved in economic policy development. But, then again, that may upset some other TDs “career”.

Kevin Boland resigned before I was born, I hope Lee’s resignation won’t be a once in a lifetime event.

@ Michael Hennigan,

“Is this the Irish version of having your cake and eating it?

Answers in Twitter format please!”


As I said above, Mr. Enda Kenny has been an outstanding leader for Fine Gael over the past number of years. I do not believe that Mr. Kenny has anything to apologise for to me, or anyone else. His fabulous achievements stand on their own and speak for themself.

The ironic thing about the recent months in the Fine Gael party, is they would have been more blessed perhaps, if they didn’t have such a dynamic leader at the helm, as Mr. Kenny undoubtedly is. I referred to this point above already – it was time for a leader of Fine Gael, who was willing to allow all of his various key party members to take the various parts of the jobs ahead, and start doing what they do.

It is ironic, that having re-built the Fine Gael party from virtually nothing, Mr. Kenny, may have been reluctant to see anyone dismantle his achievements, painstakingly built up over years. It is ironic, that exactly the time Mr. Kenny should have ‘launched the boat into the wet dock’ (bottle of champagne smashed off the hull) for better or for worse, sink or swim, he did not have the confidence or the stomach to do that.

That is the ironic and most sad thing. BOH.

@ Brian O’Hanlon – This is probably not the right thread to start discussing the NSS or indeed reports like Twice the Size – I will get to that in the future as this is something I am also interested in.

@ Ahura Mazda,

“I take your points on Lee, though I’d place more responsibility on the FG leadership. Kenny should have met and agreed a role for Lee prior to Lee’s candidacy. A Happy Lee would have been a good vote getter for FG.”

I does look very clear now in 20-20 hindsight vision, doesn’t it? I would go so far as to say, when Fine Gael took the initiative last year, to approach Mr. Lee to run as candidate in the Dublin South by-election – that is when Mr. Kenny should have made way for a different leader.

The kind of leadership, using my own 20-20 hindsight vision, that would have worked best, as I said, is the kind of leadership that allows the many individuals in the party to develop in their own directions and assume responsibility.

It is ironic to note, that is the kind of leadership style that Brian Cowen, our Taoiseach employs most of all. Under the leadership of Mr. Cowen, we have seen all of the Fianna Fail party members emerge as personalities in their own right. Even if some of the experiments have been a disaster, Cowen had the confidence, to allow some of FF’s party to make a fool of themselves in public, but while pursuing their own initiatives.

He hasn’t hampered that. Which constrasts starkly with the style employed by the leader at the other side of the house, who remained the ‘parent’ so to speak, to all of his team. In 20-20 hindsight vision, it would appear as though, Mr. Cowen who took the chances and gave his deputies some space, has achieved more and regained more political ground, that Mr. Kenny has done using his style. (Which was extraordinarily sucessful on the way up) BOH.

“@ Brian O’Hanlon – This is probably not the right thread to start discussing the NSS or indeed reports like Twice the Size – I will get to that in the future as this is something I am also interested in.”

Agreed Edgar. I won’t get into talking about it here. I just had a spare hour, to drop off a few final statements, I had in my mind about the George Lee issue.

Thanks. BOH.

George Lee is a bright guy, with loads of charisma and enthusiasm. He will be a loss to politics. However, it must be said, he did himseelf no favours on TV last night.
When asked by VB what exactly were the policy differences with the Front Bench he seemed short on specific examples. Moreover, in the 9 months he was in the Dail, he does not appear to have much to show in terms of position papers or policy proposals. It seems a contrast with James Reilly’s detailed policy proposals on healthcare or Simon Coveney on Energy & Semi States.

@Eoin – “Please tell me this is a joke? If you quit your job, “mid contract”, why should you be entitled to anything???”

I believe my source is correct. €15,000 is his ‘entitlement’ – and he was on holiday for a fair chunk of that time he was in the Dail (and receiving a good salary to boot). There is no pension entitlement though after such short service – just a lump sum.

They are weli looked after when they leave the Dail – especially if they lose their seat. That’s why George will ‘only’ get 15k – he jumped instead of being pushed. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s tax free too (doh! I forgot to ask!).

Perhaps he will give it to charity?

As for not being entitled to anything … I’m sure there are many p*sspoor CEO’s who have ‘left’ their jobs mid-contract with nice payoffs who would disagree with you. Some are more entitled than others. Two legs good, four legs bad.

I think that Fine Gael extracted their miserable €15k’s worth, and more, in the nine month period they ‘contracted’ George Lee, to ride shot gun for them through Apache territory.

In fact, that was Fine Gael’s problem in the end. They could not see Mr. Lee for who he was, beyond some sort of tacky public relations stunt artist. Bring back Twink, all is forgiven. BOH.

@Eoin – “Please tell me this is a joke? If you quit your job, “mid contract”, why should you be entitled to anything???”

Right. And if you do a piss-poor job and destroy your shareholders and have to pushed out kicking and screaming then you are only entitled to a multi-million pension and lump-sum. Cue all Irish banking chiefs.

I heard deputy Enda Kenny, on RTE radio News at One. Same leadership approach again: I will lead from the front. Me, me, me me. He doesn’t seem to grasp, that approach isn’t working anymore. Things will not improve at Fine Gael, until Mr. Kenny has the confidence to say, Not me, but all of them (his own members). As Brian Cowen did since becoming leader of FF.

Wow, I can’t believe I am saying this. I hardly have much affection for current FF government. But I have to hand it to them. Their approach is working better at the present, with the resources they have. FF’s resources may even be less than what FG enjoys. As Enda himself said, FG has many leaders and many ministers. A lot of talent.

Mr. Kenny is worried that Fine Gael will slide back down into the in-fighting and bickering, it came out of. Well, let it, I say. If you don’t allow the party a chance to work at this stage, and take a chance, one might as well throw their hat at it. The fact Brian Cowen has been in government for the last 20 years, he understands the importance of distribution of responsibility across all party members. Where Mr. Kenny (who is only in opposition) is too much of a leader, to allow the party to evolve day-to-day. BOH.

The last thing I will throw up for discussion amongst you people at the Irish Economy blog, is a serious question, and perhaps it is a question worthy of a unique thread in its own right. Brian Lucey and other Irish economists I have listened to in the last year, have argued we have entered a period of Political economics.

It should be noted, that economics, as it is now called, never was a term used on its own without politics, until its later history. When it became some kind of a specialist subject in the universities. Many famous economists have argued the need for economics to return back to its roots.

In this sense, Mr. Lee’s brief political career was the ultimate test of this suggestion, to return to its roots. The point that springs to my mind, when listening to Olivia Mitchell, Charlie Flanagan and James Reilly express their regret on Morning Ireland radio show, is this: In the same way as economists are now looking to become more aware of the wider politics, maybe our politicians in turn need to journey in the opposite direction. To become more aware of economics.

I leave that final comment to the Irish Economy blog, open for your discussion. BOH.

Relevance? One has to be blind or stupid or both to not see the relevance. But I will give you a hint.

I have not seen you complain once about the handouts given to Irish bank CEOs. You complain about a piddling 15k to George Lee. But those utterly undeserved millions to the bankers – not a peep. Those three pensions to Bertie Ahern. No sir no complaints there either. And George could have stayed in that job and done nothing and made that 15k by April Fools day. At least he is honest enough to forgo his salary when he feels he is not up to the job.

@John The Optimist
You are right it did rise – but only by 1.25% a month in the 6 months after Lee left RTE. It rose again after the budget – but Lenihan and FF were threatening us with the IMF before the budget. The budget was greeted by an adoring media with an adulation not seen since VE day in London in 1945. Minister Lenihan then declared triumphally that the recession was over. But that just means we have stopped sinking after a huge slide. His assistants went even further, declaring that a spending splurge, that’s right, a SPENDING SPLURGE, was on the way!

George Lee did not destroy consumer confidence – the more than 200,000 people who have become unemployed and the 60,000 young people who have emigrated since Brian Cowen became leader did that.
We could be in for a nasty drop in consumer confidence if the reality doesn’t meet the hype.

@ Garo

Angry, so so angry.

For the record, there is no job in the entire private sector which gives you an automatic guaranteed payout when you voluntarily leave your job because you don’t like it, but yet it seems to be the norm in Dail Eireann. You’re comparing apples and oranges in this repsect. Thats my point. He also gets to go back to a €150k a year job in RTE, where apparently they have an unlimited unpaid leave option in their work contracts, something also sadly lacking in the private sector. And at no point have i ever defended the ridiculous payouts given to bank CEO’s or the pensions of our former TD’s.

I didn’t realise that you required some form of automatic input from me on every topic of conversation that finds its way into your head. I didn’t realise that you needed my opinions that much, and i apologise for neglecting you in this way. Please send me the unabridged list of questions that you have that you feel i may not have answered at some point.

@ Edgar

apologies. I referred to the reasonably interesting voluntary severance payoff GL was entitled too. I didn’t bring up the issue over bank executive payoffs.

@ Ahura Mazda

Would you really describe GL’s resignation as a matter of principle? The only principle involved appears to be “the insufficient influence of George Lee on policy”. What differences he had with FG policy nobody knows.

I genuinely believe GL when he says the only reason he entered (and the only reason he has left) politics is his desire to influence policy. If only we had more policy-motivated politicians.

But I still don’t understand what steps he took to increase his influence. Did he circulate policy memos around the paliamentary party, make critical and/or constructive speeches at internal party meetings, demand face time with Richard Bruton etc.? Or did he think working/scheming to win influence was beneath him or something? Turning down Enda’s last minute offer of a position on the front bench (which would presumably mean greater influence on policy) because it was last-minute and not purely motivated by love and respect for George Lee was foolish and bizarre.

GL was in a very strong position to demand input. His departure has damaged FG and Enda Kenny – why on earth didn’t he just use this leverage to achieve the influence he says he wanted? If Enda refused why not do what politicians do and start doing some muttering of his own, or even some coup-plotting? If Bruton becomes leader there’s a vacancy as finance spokesperson….

I don’t know what George read over Christmas but Weber + Machiavelli would have been good.

@Edgar Morgenroth
Lee refused to go along with the cover up of the banking collapse by the establishment. He refused to go along with the opposition’s deeply dishonest cooperation with NAMA. Cardinal Kenny and Archbishop Bruton did their best to shut out the dissident theologian while milking his public name. He refused to be used. Being members of the Irish establishment they are shocked that he took a stand on principle. As already said only one deputy in the last 40 years has resigned on principle. Front benchers hardly ever do, let alone TDs.

It’s the same story with ministers. Ministers here never voluntarily resign. They are almost never sacked – except for political reasons. No full ministers except Jim McDaid (whose nomination didn’t do ahead) in the last twenty three years, excluding Ray Burke, Charles Haughey and Michael Lowry. One Minister of State for FG resigned before sacked. Ivor Callelly for FF sacked. Both because of questions of conduct.

When a TD loses his job…he goes to the senate. When a senator loses his job…he’s probably become a TD. They really do live in a different world. As one honest former TD said it’s a cocoon. Just as with TDs the catholic church did lots of social work, a huge amount of work on the ground, did it’s best to meet it’s parishoners needs etc. Just as with our political system it had huge numbers of fundamentally decent people in its ranks.
But like our political establishment it was – and still is – secretive, corrupt and warped. Acting together the political culture and structures and politicians in Ireland have become poisonous.

Our entire establishment are like the catholic church but with internal elections and well controlled media coverage. In the midst of the greatest economic crisis in the history of the country their response has been denial, cover up and collusion. They have no intention – they don’t even see any need – to change.

They are the Vatican of Western European democracies.

@Michael… I had a look around on the net and although I can see Kevin Boland resigned from FF in 1970, did he actually resign as a TD aswell?

I couldn’t find anything conclusive…

@ Oliver – the big point you omit is that the government did get elected. If people don’t like the govenmnet they can change it but they did not. If they don’t like the alternative it is open to anyone to stand as a candidate (indeed given your views you ought to consider it). In that sense George Lee took a brave step to enter politics.

@ James makes some interesting points “But I still don’t understand what steps he took to increase his influence….” Perhaps we missed something, but the reasons for his resignation are still a bit puzzling.

Could it be that that GL is angling for Charlie Bird’s post in Washington given Bird’s clear desire to come home? Charlie appears to be even more vexed that no-one panders to him in the US than GL is about his relative isolation in FG. Maybe Charlie’s imminent and inglorious return is what promoted George to make his parallel and equally inglorious move… Gives an obvious out to RTE management – what’s the odds anyone?

@ Tom

please say you’re not suggesting that Charlie Bird is going to also run in South Dublin as well??? 🙂

@Edgar Morgenroth
“@ Oliver – the big point you omit is that the government did get elected. If people don’t like the govenmnet they can change it but they did not. If they don’t like the alternative it is open to anyone to stand as a candidate (indeed given your views you ought to consider it). In that sense George Lee took a brave step to enter politics.”

If George Lee couldn’t beat the Irish political system then I certainly couldn’t. Can a radical theologian priest beat the Vatican? Not unless they make you Pope – and they won’t make you Pope. Irish elections are the equivalent of 5 yearly papal elections. The Irish establishment – like the church – changes when it decides to change. Most depressingly, it only ever changes policy. Sometimes – like Vatican 2 and the removal of tariffs – the institution’s policies change radically. The fundamental nature of the institution itself NEVER CHANGES.

The secretive, collusive, closed, hierarchical, poisonous Vatican and Irish establishment will never willingly change. The insiders will not give up power without a bitter fight.

There is seldom one simple explanation for a career move and so it is here.

We also see others’ perceived faults but not our own and in this case, Kenny and Bruton do not appear to be intimidatory individuals with big egos and one would expect that communication would not be a big obstacle.

It is also not uncommon for people to find that soon after taking up a new job, they have made a big mistake.

If you join a company or organisation where you have foolishly not had your role defined beforehand, it is difficult to do so later.

We don’t know what interest George had in new ideas/policymaking as he did not put forward significant proposals and where he made contributions, he was tripped up a number of times.

To resign so soon after being elected in the first count in an election, suggests that he hated his new job and he was lucky to have the option of going back to a public sector organisation where he can stay as long as he wishes.

He could have made a difference if he had the passion for it. In many countries, politicians take risks every day in helping people in adversity.

At home, George Lee has had a lot more luck and good fortune than the tens of thousands of victims of reckless economic mismanagement whether private sector employees or business owners who have seen years of their lives vaporise.

@George Lee
The one thing that makes the Irish establishment even slightly change is having their behaviour revealed to the public. If you really want to force the Irish establishment to change then forcing the FG wing of it to change is imperative, as they will be in power after the next election.

Reveal all – every detail. Name names – every one. Shame them. Shame them publicly – as publicly as you can. The church is dead because people failed to do this. FF may soon be dead too. If you want to save FG – and the country – reveal the complete, blunt truth.

It’s the ONLY thing that will ever make them change.

@ James Conran,

I think from his perspective it was a point of principle. He wanted to be central to economic policy but felt marginalised. Whether his decision was right is questionable. If Lee hadn’t resigned his seat on principle, I may not have had this event during my lifetime!

Other TDs and political correspondents seem to suggest Lee wasn’t able to cut it. This seems smug. An alternative view is sitting on the backbenches, fast-tracking passports and attending funerals adds little to our nation’s future. Perhaps you could even accuse them of being self-serving. But I’d never do that 😉

@ Wonderer

Boland remained a TD when he resigned as minister in 1970.

Stephen Colins says today in the IT: a similar episode was the election of an unemployed workers’ candidate, Jack Murphy, in the general election of 1957. After a frustrating year as an Independent he resigned his seat and emigrated to England. He had nothing like Lee’s advantages and profile but was similarly lost in Leinster House.

To become so despondent after nine months gives some idea of the level of dross, cant and institutionalisation in the Oireachtas. George had a head start on the workings of our Government yet it beat him. This is a very negative message for any Independent candidate for change in the next election.
If this message coupled with the evidence that we have by no means “turned the corner” translates into an alienation of the average voter, whither democracy in Ireland?

James Conran says:

“I don’t know what George read over Christmas but Weber + Machiavelli would have been good.”

Nicely put James.

Michael Hennigan says:

“If you join a company or organisation where you have foolishly not had your role defined beforehand, it is difficult to do so later.”

I think it was Harry McGee, political staff with the Irish Times who said this morning, it was naive on both Fine Gael party’s side, and on George Lee’s side himself, not to nail down the agreement better.

There is the crux of the matter, as I tried to outline to Mr. Karl Whelan lately. That economists lack experience in implementation, even though they are excellent at seeing things others cannot see in the bigger picture.

The construction industry, where I work, has an endless amount of work, re-winding the tape in time, and fast-forward-ing it, and re-winding it again, to try and ascertain afterwards what contract was made.

There is always some aspect of a project, which afterwards becomes the subject of some disagreement. The funniest one I ever heard of, was a teacher of mine at university, who did not agree with the concept of putting insulation into the walls of old Georgian houses. He bought one of a pair of homes sold by a builder, which had insulation installed in it. So he sued the builder for putting in the insulation.

The fellow who purchased the second house, heard about the court case, and wanted to know if there was insulation in his Georgian house. There wasn’t. He wasn’t impressed, and sued the building for not installing insulation. The poor old builder was left with 2 no. court cases on his hands, with no clients happy, having tried to do the best he could for both of them. This is why they invented intermediaries called architects by the way. BOH.

Question to all: Is there any sense in the following statement? As we move towards more ‘expert’ or listed members in Dail Eireann, in the future. I.e. Not like the career type of politicians of the past. Is there a possibility, that it will become a bit more like a contractual arrangement? I.e. Like in marriages, where prenuptial contracts became the norm, where one party stood to lose a lot, if it broke up. I am thinking of guys such as Paul McCarthy, who seldom gave away much of his fortune when a relationship ended.

Clearly, Fine Gael pursued an economic specialist in George Lee, with no previous political track record. His mandate was to fix the economy. (How’s that for ambitious) Fine Gael also pursued James Reilly in the same way, who worked in the health service, to assist Fine Gael in improving the health service. This was obviously a strategy of Fine Gael, to accommodate more experience-backed individuals in the party.

Not a bad strategy and a novel one indeed. But when you go down this route, is it not a good idea the party has some form of agreement with the expert individual? And visa versa, as Michael Hennigan suggested above – the expert clearly outlines what their role aught to be, from the get-go?



if we really want ‘experts’ in the Dail, while still taking account of constituency responsibilities, should we not consider some type of list system for a proportion to the main house of the Oireachtas?

We have 166 members as is, all directly elected. Why not reduce it down to say 146, with the remaining 20 apportioned to each party on a total first preference vote basis. This would give each party the opportunity to bring in “experts” in certain fields, without that expert having to devote so much time to trying to get re-elected all the time. Imagine if FF could bring in a heavyweight like Peter Sutherland or Denis O’Brien or Michael O’Leary (if any of them were willing to), who would not be too bothered about re-election a few years down the road. Other countries are able to do it all the time.

Or why not reduce the Dail to the representation ratios used in Germany. The reduced volume of TD’s represent the people. The resultant savings could service a new Seanad populated by business drivers. Some form of balance with a Presidential casting vote.
Too simple by far.

@ Bond Eoin,

The simplest way to look at this Eoin, is as follows. We already have ‘listed members’ of a sort. Except they are not individuals per se. They are rather, organisations, such as the ESRI (the problems for ministers and ESRI reports etc, is well documented in various relationships down through the years) who facilitate the government with policy documents designed to bolster up the technical knowledge in the Dail chamber. The only difference, now, is we are looking to move this expertise closer to the Dail chamber, and put it within the Dail chamber, and indeed, within political parties. It is like transplanting an organ – one must only hope the body will accept the new organ.

There is an analogy I have been working on, to try and understand the Mr. Lee – Fine Gael relationship. It is a form of contract known as the surrogate mother. Where the infertile party enlist the services of a person to become the bearer of something very special for them. The surrogate policy maker’s job is to sit there and consume choclate. The expert brain being used as the chamber in which to incubate a new economic policy. This is the kind of service is performed all of the time, by economic, social and environmental think tanks around Ireland. But the experience of managing the contract is a bit more advanced and well worked out.

In the case of Mr. Lee and Fine Gael, they embarked on something new for both of them, and the inexperience eventually showed. Following the nine month gestation period, it appears as though the surrogate policy maker, did not wish to part with the offspring. The ‘glittering career’ that Fine Gael was prepared to offer Mr. Lee was like the one that society used to offer our female population in days gone by. The honour and responsibility of producing the next generation. Listening to the radio interviews with various Fine Gael Dail deputies today, they appeared to say: George Lee did not hold up his part of the bargain. Where are his policy documents?


@ Furrlugs

not a bad idea if we could beef up the actual power of the Seanad in the meantime. But who decides on the make up of the Seanad? List system or some other method?


Resigning because you don’t feel important enough is not a point of principle!
Face it, he was banking on an election and thought he’d be in cabinet. He took a one year leave of absence and the year is approaching its end. It was all about him.
The voters of South Dublin should send him the bill. It’s a shocking way to treat the constituency.

@ Sarah Carey,

Delighted to get your input on this one Sarah. I have a very independent kind of lifestyle myself. I don’t own a mortgage, have children to care for and all of that. There are probably vast parts of this argument, which I don’t even see. Like you say, all of the voters of South Dublin who voted for him. BOH.

What economic expertis did George Lee actually have. He graduated from college 20 years ago with a master degree from LSE. Curiously, this is the same place that Bertie Ahern got his higher education from in the post. He lectured briefly. He worked in finacial markets for a few months. He has to the best of my knowledge produced no research in the interim period. He is not a Karl Whelan, Morgan Kelly much less a Brian Lucey. Can anybody name a single paper authored by George.

He worked as Charlie Bird’s sidekick for 20 years, during which time he was tipped off about NIB but failed to spot Anglo.

FG either hired him as a show pony or as an ecopnomic analyst. We don’t know which. He sorted that issue out by producing no policy initiative in his 9 months in the Dail. During which time he slagged off FF consistently but when he debated Minister Lenihan he got eaten alive.
He got bored with life as a political drudge and contrived a row with Enda Kenny over spurious policy differences. He will skulk back to RTE with 15k severance in his arse pocket and a 50k salary raise. It is a testiment to the stupidity of FG and Kenny that they would hire this guy. With this form they willbe in opposition for another generation.

In short, George was like a lighhouse in a bog-magnficent but useless. He will probably end up doing proeprty porn and/or understudying Bosco. The people of Dublin South have been played for fools by this charlatan. They will know better next time and elect either Alex White or Shay Brennan. If I was FG, I Would not even bother.

@Michael Hennigan
Lot of talk from FG that George Lee is returning to his well paid job etc etc.
“Ten Fine Gael TDs who took a voluntary pay cut last year, including party leader Enda Kenny, have asked for their salary to be restored following the reduction imposed by last December’s budget.
Three other Fine Gael politicians have decided to continue with the voluntary deduction despite suffering an official pay cut.”

@Robert Browne
I found this piece bitter and partisan but unsurprising.

The provinces all have distinct issues so one Seanad director (not member) voted on by a provincial board of management. Another director voted on by the third level institutions to protect the “knowledge economy”. Thats eight – with a keen eye on NI economics to boot.
A college of academics to vote on another two young high achieving graduates to represent fresh thinking. Thats 10. Two practicing businesspeople with demonstrable export driven experience to volunteer on a non executive basis with a modest stipend to cover expenses. Twelve. And a highly respected Chief Executive from the dispora. Thats enough.
I know this needs thinking through but we need that sort of representation. That board can then make the best use of all the independent people such as contribute here. It’s all about action, effectiveness, fresh ideas and international reputation.


Remember Tomás MacGiolla:

Just a little reminder that another who did this state no small service was also in the news yesterday – I refer, of course, to Tomás MacGiolla, ex lord mayor of Dublin, leader of Official Sinn Fein, and one of the men of principle of his generation. His economic policies might not be flavor of the month around this blog …………. but he unquestionably had, what many public representatives apparently lack at the moment – genuinely held principles.

my favourite politicians in history were Abraham Lincoln, Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, FDR (the list goes on but i’ll spare y’all!)

not one of them was on course for the changes they sought after a 9 month career, not a single one, and to think that one can transform a nation while still learning the ropes is a farce, George Lee got into something he didn’t understand (at least to the same degree as his chosen profession) and ultimately isn’t capable of, he did the right thing in stepping down if he isn’t cut out for it, but don’t go blaming others for it.

Sarah Carey is the first person here to post the obvious reason for his decision. When I heard the announcement that he was going into politics I thought at the time that he must be pretty confident that the government was going to collapse and that there would be an election. In fairness though, I suppose that there seems to have been a communications problem on both sides at the initial stage as you would think that FG and GL would have clarified his role at the start. How on earth did he think that he could change so much in 9 months in the opposition party? Personally, I never bought the ridiculous hype about how he was going to save us all and I think that he has an inflated opinion of his own abilities and importance. Having said that he does know something about economics so I did welcome someone with some economics expertise going into politics rather than merely criticising from the sidelines. I thought that the Sam Smyth report in the Indo today was quite interesting

@ Karl Deeter,

We would do well Karl, first, if we properly understood what Mr. Lee’s primary complaints are. Rather than getting over emotional, in what we think, or assume we know, what Mr. Lee’s primary complaints are. I think his complaints are legitimate, and I beg to differ with anyone who claims otherwise.

If I was to judge the performance of the Irish government in 2 of 3 no. dimensions, I would say they are doing a pretty good job.

(1) Local constituency work.
(2) State as the island’s largest single employer.
(3) The government and the wider (non-state) economy.

Taking the first two, I would say, they are doing fine. Not every employer has a perfect track record, and even the best employers ever, cannot solve every single problem they face. Think of the amount of work it is for Dail Eireann, even since Christmas last, to fulfill its duties only for no. 2 above.

We have seen the FAS employment agency scandal return. We have seen the bonus to higher paid civil servants. We have seen attacks from Eamon Gilmore in relation to Mary ‘something’, a low wage public servant unable to pay her mortgage. As an employer, a huge employer, the Irish state and by implication, the Dail chamber itself, must look carefully at and balance its policy in relation to public servants.

But the point I always make, is that given the Dail chamber is so consumed with (1) and (2) above, (3) hardly gets a look in. Which of the 3 no. duties do you think that Mr. Lee was most interested in? Yeah, it is this one:

(3) The government and the wider (non-state) economy.

But the position that George Lee found himself in, was frustrating, because enough attention did not go in joint Oireachtas policy making discussion towards (3). I have a dreadful, but real feeling myself, that Dail Eireann will never be any good at (3).

Professor David Farrell, in the political science department at UCD has suggested, that TD’s are relieved of some of the duties in (1) and (2) by strengthening of local government responsibilities. Maybe that would allow more resources in the Dail chamber to be diverted towards (3).

I think that is what politicians such as Mr. Lee would like to see. An attempt by the Irish government to become amazing and world leading in support of private enterprise and employment. Rather than aiming for excellence at local representation level and in state employment.

You will note, everyone, the Smart Economy document, is a document very well tailored, to modernisation and improvement of the public service. It is not a document at all, which looks far enough at (3) as I described above.


As a golf pro once said to me, “At this stage in my career, I cannot improve my best shots. It makes more sense, to spend more of my practice time, looking at how I can improve the weakest aspects of my game.” There is a natural, in-built reluctance in all competitors (and lets face it, in an open marketplace, many nations are competitors with each other) not to improve the weaker aspects of their game. The Irish state and government has provided ample evidence of that to me, in not using the talents of Mr. Lee to more value. BOH.

I think it is a shame, that no matter how hard you try to get your message across clearly and succinctly, it never happens. People will always hear what they want to hear, despite what you say, and sometimes, in spite of what you say.

Alot of the comment here, and by the hosts interviewing George, or discussing his decision, and his statements, seem to ignore what he said.

He didn’t say;
– He expected to change the world or Ireland, or Fine Gael in 9 months.
– He expected a position of power or significance in FG or the Dail.

What I heard him say was;
– There was no channel in that party by which he could even discuss, have input to, let alone influence their economic policy.
– That he was being used as window-dressing / advertising material for policies he had no part in constructing.

Whether he is naive or not, I think it is a concern that either;
a) FG mis-used this potential asset.
b) The way that policy is formulated in any of the Parties, is probably so unstructured, that there just isn’t a formal channel for reviewing and amending policy within this Party. The pattern of mis-management throughout so many areas of government, should lead us to expect very little from our politicians. But we are ever optimistic, that someone actually has a clue…… Sad fact may be, that they just don’t. And George realised it was too big and impossible a task to try to change that.

@ Sarah Carey,

I bow to your greater cynicism. Your view is very plausible, but equally if GL is so egocentric it would be difficult to shun electoral popularity for an undefined role in obscurity. On the monetary side, he would have been a shoe-in at the next election, a probable ministerial role and pension perks.

The main point I was trying to make is the lack of TDs resigning on principle. If I revoke GL’s principled status, then we have to go back 53 years and even then it appears that that dude just fecked off to England for no particular reason.

“But the position that George Lee found himself in, was frustrating, because enough attention did not go in joint Oireachtas policy making discussion towards (3). I have a dreadful, but real feeling myself, that Dail Eireann will never be any good at (3).”

Having talked to Enterprise Ireland staff myself, on one occasion or another, they appear to think, Dail Eireann doesn’t have a clue. (Don’t take my word for it, just go and ask some) If you talk to people in large business here in Ireland, similarly, they don’t think Dail Eireann has any clue. Note the similarity in opinion by both a state institution aimed at fostering private enterprise, and those in private enterprise itself.

So there is some evidence to suggest, that Dail Eireann is focussed on excellence in (1) and (2), because it is afraid to confront its own failure (in relative terms) in (3).

The interesting thing is, for the brief period of the Celtic Tiger, when it seemed to be working for Ireland in all (1), (2) and (3), the Dail Eireann representatives seemed to claim credit for all three jack pots. I would claim, that to Dail Eireann’s credit, they understand (1) and (2), but don’t understand, nor do they confidently, want to understand (3). BOH.

@ Ahura

“undefined role in obscurity.”

Eh, unlikely, even-money he’ll be back doing prime time media work, on the box or in print, within a few months. Difficult to describe his career thus far, pre-Dail Eireann as “obscure”, so no reason to think that’ll change.

@Sarah Carey
FG helped cover up the collapse of the banks and agreed to cooperate to get NAMA passed, while publicly completely opposing it. Now this. Only FG could have become a totally discredited OPPOSITION – and after being out of power for so long. When the pound collapsed in 1992 senior British Labour figures didn’t rush to the conservatives side as senior FG figures backed FF/PDs. They did this (?) against the wishes of their own party.

FG have all the Vatican like characteristics of the rest of the Irish establishment. When they finally get elected into office for the first time in thirty years…not much will change. How could it? FG – Dukes, Sutherland, Fitzgerald, Kenny, Bruton et al – are just the duller, posher wing of the establishment.

We needed an FDR – we got Kenny and Bruton.

It is interesting, as someone else said, the particular vocabulary which Mr. Lee used when he spoke to Pat Kenny on The Frontline. Words like insider, outsider and so forth. The truth is, Mr. Lee did infiltrate ‘the organisation’. Even if they felt suspicious of him all along, and only used him as a media circus act. As Noel Whelan, political commentator mentioned on The Frontline, it would even be worse for Mr. Kenny, if Mr. Lee had exited the Dail, having become a front bencher. If indeed, Mr. Lee had become a ‘made man’. To be honest, these dynastic kinds of structures of Dail Eireann, I think, when we look back 10 years from now, will look quaint and from another era.


Btw, for those not keeping up, Tony Demello = Oliver Vandt = E65bn and so on and so forth…i’m expecting Don Quixote to start posting on here soon…

It shows Kenny’s lack of bite when at the last minute Lee was offered a saving grace as a frontbencher…who does that? A leader of a P Party shouldn’t be backed into a corner, panic and throw a frontbench position as a bargain! I’m not saying that’s what Lee did. In fact he was right to leave, he was a talent that was needed and was not utilised.

He could have been offered an Advisory role the same way Alan Ahearn was utilised (of which he is still on a sabbatical also and can walk back into NUIG at any stage), it took a long time for FF to see the need but FG have yet to.

I think many of people would have felt compensated just by Lee being inside the doors of the Dail, whether he was “socialising in the bar” or “twiddling his thumbs” people wouldn’t have cared.

Bottom line he was there to play a role in the structure of economic policy and was not used.

Absolutely no point in him being there otherwise.

It was a position which was put to him (as a media gag from FG point of view). It has nothing to do with letting politics down or the people. It’s a bit ignorant to be content with him sitting on his arse inside and staring into thin air having no input at all.

I reckon this thread could hit 250 comments….a record breaker I think…

@ consaw

Bottom line he was there to play a role in the structure of economic policy and was not used.

There are many non-economic aspects of necessary reform that are essential for effective economic policy.

It puzzles me that a person who walks away from a fight for change; who did not put forward significant proposals when he had a unique platform as a media insider and returns to a cushy public sector position, elicits admiration.

George Lee and the job he hated:


It’s not cynicism. It’s fury. Fury that a) the safety net the public sector provides to those who screw up b) that the imperative to get FF out of office has been damaged c) that George claims so much integrity but could treat his colleagues and voters so poorly. d) the COST of another by-election!

All he had to do was go up to his office and write down an alternative plan. Jesus. Dermot Desmond did it.

btw, as far as I know, the only person who ever resigned from the RTE newsroom on principle was Kevin Myers, over the sacking of the RTE Authority and imposition of Section 31.

The Irish don’t do principle and certainly don’t demand accountability. That is the running theme.

True Mike, True. But….. Again he wasn’t utilised for any other aspects either. He chaired a few meetings, given to him to keep him happy.

It was a waste of an asset whether it was economic policy or any other reform agenda he could have had valuable input to.

And as for policy proposals….As far as I know it was not a very solid platform for him to propose his policies. I have a feeling he would have had to get around a very structured system in order to be heard.

As someone with knowledge in an area he should have been approached on occasion for input on policy. It should not be a system where you have to fight for your opinion to be heard within your own party. Once again, a systematic problem.

As someone with knowledge in an area he should have been approached on occassion for input on policy. It should be a system where you have to fight for your oponion to be heard within your own party. Again a systematic problem.

Also it’s a very bitter view at begrudging him going back to RTE, why wouldn’t he? Wouldn’t you?

@Sarah Carey

George Lee was frozen out and given a dud job to keep him quiet. It is typical behaviour of politicans. They were jockeying for their positions down the line. George realised what type of people and a party he was dealing with and decided lending his name and reputation to it was a sham.

I don’t like George Lee’s policies, populism or ego. However, I think he was right to pull the plug rather than lend his name and reputation to people who were more interested in playing politics than in addressing the country’s problems. Politics is a dirty game but FG gave the welcome message that they were going to be a transformational party when they took brought in George Lee. That message was clearly a sham.

@ Sarah

“that the imperative to get FF out of office has been damaged”

That has nothing to do with this thread or matter. Thats a personal view. I don’t think George Lee had that in his mind when leaving and shouln’t influence anyones opinion on the matter.

sounds like your more concerned about FG’s face in the media and voting circle than that of pricniples??

I think we also need to consider FG’s policy of abolishing the Seanad as well. The Seanad is a mechanism, flawed and in need of reform thought it is, of bringing expertise into the Oireachtas. A limited number of Senators can be appointed to cabinet if the Taoiseach decides.

If Enda Kenny did not even talk to an economist TD in times of economic crisis then it is no wonder he wants to axe the Seanad.

@ zhou_enlai

The “junior” (official term) senator for Illinois, Barack Obama, got a few minor positions on sub-committees when he arrived in Washington DC in 2005.

Ditto for Hillary Clinton in 2001.

That didn’t constrain them from making a difference, teaming up with others on legislation etc.

If Lee was the shrinking violet you imply, it would have all ended in tears anyway.

The fact that he came up with no policy proposals of his own surely speaks for itself.

Are you gullible enough to believe that Lee was 100% candid on his reasons for quitting?

He wanted to influence policy but not originate it!

Why did he only speak to Kenny when he was thinking of quitting?

@ Consaw

you’re quite clearly on GL’s side in all of this, that much is obvious. However, i think it is extremely difficult to deny the following:

The Outcome:
– the credibility of Kenny as FG leader has been undermined
– the public belief in FG’s competence has been undermined
– the credibility of FG as an alternative government has therefore been undermined
– FF have therefore gained as a result

The Blame:
– GL was naive to some extent on how he saw this situation working, which is surprising given the area in which he worked
– FG either over promised or completely misunderstood what GL wanted from this situation
– regardless of principles etc, GL’s behaviour looks naive at best, and egotistic and selfish at worst.
– the €15k payout, rather than the return to RTE, is what is really galling many people
– the constituents of South Dublin are now lacking their full representation in the Dail, and are understandably angry
– the taxpayers of this country are being handed yet another by-election bill and are understandably angry
– the blame for that bill, and the €15k payout, lies with either FG or GL, or more probably a bit of both.


I am not a member of the George Lee fan-club!

However, the democratic process in the USA, and particularly the lack of a whip system in the Senate, makes Senators hugely powerful. In Ireland you can only effect change through your party.

If official party positions were being developed on the economy and the banks, such as the “Good Bank” solution, the party’s submissions on NAMA and the pre-budget submissions, then one could not have any influence without being consulted on them. Making up a meaningless position for somebody you want to keep down is the oldest trick in the books in politics.

I think George Lee’s policies may well have been flawed and Richard Bruton & Andrew McDowell et al may well have been right to reject them after consideration. However, Bruton never even spoke to him about FG economic policy!

FG brought this man and portrayed themselves as supporting the approach to politic that George Lee stood for in his crusades on TV. They led people to believe that George Lee was a valuable addition to their party and that they were going to tap into George’s insights. They then ignored him. This was a fraud on the electorate and George Lee was right not to take part in it any longer.

Perhaps my colleague VB puts it best today

“In the eight months he was in the Dáil he could have produced a policy document of his own and invited the Fine Gael parliamentary party to discuss it, just as Declan Costello did almost 50 years ago with his Just Society document. But George didn’t. He could have used his celebrity public meetings to enunciate his own views on public policy and he need not have been constrained by being the nominated chairman. But he didn’t.

Declan Costello had a great deal to say; regrettably George had nothing to say.”

@Sarah Carey

George Lee has left politics now. What he mighta coulda shoulda done are immaterial to everyone bar the people in FG who bear him a grudge.

The rest of us are concerned with what FG mighta coulda shoulda done and what they will do if they are elected. It is important for us to know how they operate internally and to question how they sidelined a qualified economist TD (one of only two in the prliamentary party).

Brian Lenihan called out to see David McWilliams and who knows how many others. He brought in Alan Ahearne and Patrick Honohan. Meanwhile Enda Kenny and Richard Bruton didn’t even ring George Lee or call intp his office for a chat!

There is a big divide in the response to George Lee’s resignation which reveals a deeper fault-line in society:

a. there are those for whom emotional authenticity and saying what you feel when you feel it are valued highly. Most of the media support this notion. Movies frequently have this line as their subtext. There are lots of movies about passionate love affairs.

b. there are those for whom emotional restraint and applying patience in the pursuit of longe-range goals are valued highly. Movies seldom have this line as their subtext. There are few movies about raising children.

Some, especially younger people and those who listen to Liveline, adhere to position a. Others, especially older people and those who work in organisations to pay for their families, adhere to position b. George Lee’s (post resignation) supporters seem to adhere, in the main, to position a. But consider some facts.

By his own admission, he did not formally offer policy ideas to FG’s front-bench – that indicates little or no real commitment on his part to the ideas he purports to hold. I am still unclear what they are.

By his own admission, he turned down the offer of a front-bench position from Enda Kenny because it was offered “under duress”. But half of all political decisions are probably made under some form of duress, either explicit or implied. Is GL completely naive?

GL contends that he is “a team player”. That perception is clearly not shared by Fine Gael’s TD and senators and one wonders what he bases it on? I would have thought that GL is more a prima donna than a team player.

What impact did George Lee make as a TD? Apart from his Glenties fopray, I can only remember one “contribution”.

He recently made a public comment about the refinancing of Houghton Mifflin (formerly Riverdeep) that can only have made the negotiation of that refinancing considerably more difficult (and expensive). His comment had little or no political purpose from what I could see. But it was an example of an incontinent newsboy who couldn’t hold in his scoop and simply had to pee it out, whatever the consequences to others. It was profoundly wrong-headed.

I would say that GL had come to the conclusion over Christmas that Leinster House just wasn’t his kind of place and that retail politics wasn’t his thing. He knew that his RTE leave of absence would end in May. And he probably suspected that his excuse – that FG weren’t listening to him – would expire once Enda Kenny had his next reshuffle and offered him a front bench position. So he baled out this week.

George left FG because he had no “economic input”. But he certainly won’t be doing economics in RTE – it’s too political and they already have Sean Whelan.

The sad conclusion is that George is a gifted and emotionally authentic person in a world that rewards patience and emotional discipline.

(Declaration of interest – I work in the finance area but have no direct or indirect interest in Houghton Mifflin / Riverdeep / Davys).

As one man said FG thought Lee was good enough for the front bench last week. Now they realise he was never cut out for Irish politics. Then again, he did take a principled stand so maybe they’re right. One meeting with Richard Bruton (and three conversations) says it all.

Bishop Bruton may have a few reforming ideas but:
A. He will never implement them. He went into hiding on NAMA and the banks. He will never take on the vested interests and insiders.
B. He has no sense of urgency. 60,000 emigrated and unemployment increased 200,000 in less than two years. Lee saw a national emergency and risked his career. Bruton just wasn’t bothered.

Richard Bruton has been in the cocoon of Leinster House (as an ex-TD called it) for almost thirty years – and he says he’s still got a “huge” amount of policy work to do before the next election. 30 years, repeated crisis, and he still doesn’t know how to fix the system? Several years in to the current crisis, which his admirers claim he foresaw (but kept silent, as usual), and he still needs ANOTHER two and a half to get ready? What???

C. His few reforming ideas won’t change the collusive, secretive governance CULTURE of Ireland, and the few watered down remnants he does implement have even less chance. Why should they? The Bruton Brothers were in Leinster house BEFORE Enda Kenny. They’ve been at the top of the establishment for 30 years. Richard Bruton is part of the problem.

I just heard Brian Hayes saying that Lee moaned privately to him about his pay falling. 2 points occur:
1. I would have preferred if he had been privately 100% supportive. However, 10 out of 13 Fine Gael TDs who previously took a voluntary pay cut REVERSED it. Thus they PUBLICLY indicated they thought the pay cuts already made were too much, or close enough.

2. Lee is now free to reveal details of private conversations with FG representatives and staff. FG have broken confidence. They have used his private conversations against him. Lee must now do the same.

@George Lee
You must now reveal all about the banking cover up by FG and their tacit support for NAMA and their tacit support for the government during the NAMA process. They publicly claimed to oppose them. They have now revealed what you said to them privately. In the interests of the country and FG you must now do the same. Don’t follow their warped, corrupted notions of honour. Tell ALL.

@ All,

thanks above, for some of the long contributions above, which I am looking forward to reading on later this evening. Good to hear all of those contributions.

I am still playing around in my mind, throughout the day, with this parallel between Mr. Lee and the famous ‘Donnie Brasco’, who (almost fully) infiltrated one of the new york families.

As I said, this dynastic kind of politics in Ireland worked for previous generations who were uneducated and could be exported on the hoof to low paid, un-skilled employment in the UK, US or elsewhere.

That old kind of politics simply isn’t appropriate to the modern day, educated workforce in Ireland – the one which, many of those wage slaves, who mopped floors and worked out their lives in dead end industrial jobs, struggled to create, throughout their investment in their childrens’ education and upbringing.

The old dynasty days are over, and almost everything you hear about in the media, is from old-style political commentators who have invested their lives in trying to understand the old-style system, and are now reluctant to accept that old system has had its day, and is on the way out.


As I mentioned up above. Dail Eireann good at (1) and (2), but it never developed any real expertise in (3). Dail Eireann, is struggling to even catch up with the reality that it even has a responsibility vis-a-vis duty (3). A bit like the father who left rearing of the kids to the other spouse. In the past, Dail Eireann could export challenge (3) for someone else to deal with. Instead of developing an expertise in Dail Eireann to learn how to approach (3), instead Dail Eireann spent their time basking in the sun beam that was the Celtic Tiger, over-inflated bubble, and took full credit for it, while it was good.


(1) Local constituency work.
(2) State as the island’s largest single employer.
(3) The government and the wider (non-state) economy.


@Cormac Lucey
There are more views than a. Live-line listeners and b. self-proclaimed rationalists… simplification of the issues got us here, no doubt it and its bedfellow general isation will get us out.

I don’t see how being ‘naive’ is a factor here? So you’re saying that being aware of an inept structure and system makes it ok and that he should have accepted the way things worked inside the walls of FG/dail?

It was FF’s lack of economic guidance from able professionals within that sector that hindered there economic policy, I’m not saying he has yet but AA might be making a difference on this front. Why because he’s being used to his strengths….advising economic policy. I don’t think many will disagree that since then Lenihan has been doing a satisfactory job.

An economic analyst should be forming or at least involved in policy formation….not some farmer backbencher with half a calculator who labels himself an expert because he lives down the road from a bank!

Not in the GL fan club…just analysing with common sense.

Cormac Lucey was if I remember correctly an advisor to the PDs in recent times.

@Michael Henigan
George Lee spoke out against the bubble. FG had the best communicator on finance matters in Ireland. The country has an economic crisis. Lee won an overwhelming victory in the by-election and so had a demonstrated electoral mandate. 3 seats in Dublin South were guaranteed. FG were all set to stop NAMA and bring down the government, with Lee as their greatest weapon.

So what happened? Nothing. NOTHING HAPPENED. FG failed to put the government under acute pressure since Lee’s election, even once, during a terrible economic crisis that everyone agrees the government is completely responsible for. NOT ONCE. So they failed to use their best weapon and they utterly failed. And THAT is a DAMNING INDICTMENT OF FG.

Richard Bruton, their finance spokesman, met him once. He met his party’s best asset on economics ONCE during an economic CRISIS. The government, whose FF/PD components are responsible for the economic and banking collapse, mass unemployment and mass emigration, will be in office for another two and a half years, BECAUSE OF FG’S FAILURE.

Why should we take the chance of an electing an utterly incompetent opposition because their arrogant spokesment – who shut Lee out – think it’s their turn?
Why should we vote for FG when they secretly collude and cover up with a discredited government?
I won’t be. I’d vote for Eamon Ryan of the Greens before ANY FG candidate. At least the Greens are openly cooperating with the government – not purporting to oppose them.

@ Consaw

“So you’re saying that being aware of an inept structure and system makes it ok and that he should have accepted the way things worked inside the walls of FG/dail?”

He knew what he was getting into (or should have), he didnt really do very much to change it, and then he complains about how bad the system was afterwards. No offence, but im not really sure why we should be applauding someone who has just wasted everyone’s time. These are more the actions of an undercover reporter than a person interested in making the country a better place. At least if he’d lasted a few years and tried a few new things he could say he tried but to no avail. At the moment he didn’t even try, and decided to jump when the going got tough. I’m thinking Sarah Carey’s version of events is a far better fit to reality.

It seems nothing has changed since Bertie Ahern’s era of fantasy economics.
Despite the evidence that GL had not the motivation to produce any detailed proposal himself, his gullible admirers persist in arguing that he should have had a key role in economic policymaking.

He had 2 direct staff and access to Oireachtas research facilities and as I said previously for whatever he wished to propose, he had an inside track to the media.

Besides, he had long holidays to produce some new ideas/proposals.

I write this as an individual who has put forward several proposals on reform.

The same gullibles put all the blame on Bruton for poor personal relations.

David McWilliams styles himself a “high-profile economist” along with Lee, in the Indo today and writes: “I have huge respect for his talents and know that he has “living room” appeal. Ordinary people believe him because he has been both right and honest in his work over the years. What the insiders don’t understand is that he has done his time, just not in the Dail. He has done his time where it really matters, in people’s living rooms.”

This is a fantasy world where being on television gives people more credibility than experience in the real world of business or whatever.

I guess Bertie Ahern and Charlie Haughey also had ‘living room” appeal at some stage.

There are of course no insiders in RTÉ!!!


Are you surprised that Richard Bruton and Enda Kenny did not ask an FG TD who is a qualified economist who has done research on Ireland in the recent past for input into (i) their submissions on the NAMA Bill, (ii) their Budget Submissions, or (iii) their good bank plan?

Do you think Kieran O’Donnell should have been favoured to the exclusion of George Lee?

To suggest that a TD should go away and come up with grand economic plan parallel to and possibly in contradiction of his party’s plans as developed by Richard Bruton et al at the same time is a total nonsense.

Others posted previously about how desirable it would be to have more phd level economists in the civil service. There is no point in recruiting highly qualified people if you aren’t going to use them properly.

Oh, this is gonna get ugly…would also seem to contradict GL supporters who claim no one asked him for input etc.


Coveney criticises Lee’s ‘fanfare’
Wednesday, 10 February 2010 15:12

Fine Gael’s Simon Coveney has said that George Lee chose to leave the party ‘with great fanfare’.

According to Deputy Coveney, Mr Lee used every possible media outlet to air his supposed grievances and to damage Fine Gael and Enda Kenny to the maximum extent possible.

‘I don’t forgive him for that,’ Deputy Coveney, who is the party’s Spokesperson on Communications and Energy, said on RTÉ Radio’s News at One.

He said it was regrettable that Mr Lee decided to ‘abandon’ Fine Gael and added that ‘I gave him documents, I asked him to make comments…share his ideas…I didn’t get anything back.’

Deputy Coveney said that yesterday the Fine Gael front bench ‘had a very robust and honest discussion’ about the challenges for Mr Kenny and the party arising from Mr Lee’s resignation.

‘There were very hard questions asked of Enda.which he answered,’ Deputy Coveney said.

Mr Kenny’s leadership style ‘will appeal to people in time,’ Mr Coveney said.

‘That’s the challenge for Enda. He needs to step up to that mark and if he can’t achieve it well then there are the obvious consequences of that.’

@zhou – as Colm McCarthy put it, the supply is not the problem but the demand is!

That said I would have thought that George Lee could have flown some kites, which, given his public profile, surely could not have been ignored by FG.

@ Zhou

I agree that there should be a higher level of economists in the civil service they do not necessarily have to be of PhD level, as far as I know I think there is only one (outside of AA) PhD level economist within the civil service.

Compare that to Britain who have hundreds of economists working and analysing policy every day for every department. i.e. people who are qualified to analyse and construct policy.

We have candidates who have been elected from council level to the Dail, majority were popular ‘pub owners’ and people persons with no clue about policy or how to construct.

When an asset came about for them…of course they didn’t use it.
George Lee merely highlighted a massive problem in an age old political system

…oh no I didn’t!

@Michael Hennigan
I do get the sense that with FG’s (and Labour’s):
1. tacit cooperation on NAMA itself
2. tacit cooperation in the banking cover up
3. tacit decision to stop opposing FF during the NAMA process

George Lee may have given up over Christmas. He did have recent interviews on the bank inquiry where he wiped the floor – in a way I have never seen an Irish politician do – with his opponents, Willy O’Dea (on RTE) and Mary O’Rourke (on Newstalk). They spouted political waffle. He spoke to the audience, really spoke to them – and won hands down.
It was George Lee – you listened, and you believed. As a result, they were superb performances of a kind I have NEVER heard from an Irish politician before, and I’ve seen and heard many.
This is a HUGE loss to FG and to the country.

Lee wanted input into policy. FG shut him out. He wanted to get into government now, FG want to wait until the economy is recovering. He wanted to clean up and clear up Ireland. FG want to cover up and protect insiders. The realisation that FG had deliberately kept an utterly discredited government in power for another two and a half years was probably the final straw.

By the time FG get into office, and because of FG (and Labour’s) behaviour, the crisis will be over, the bank investors and speculators bailed out (by the blind, the disabled and the public) and the truth covered up. Given FG’s immorality, how could he stay?

As for George Lee – GEORGE LEE – not having anything to say, that’s just laughable. When George Lee walks into a room a crowd flocks – I saw it myself at a meeting. The FG PP, alone of the Irish population, were totally immune to this? They never repeatedly and in depth asked him his opinions on NAMA and the banks and the budget?

Mr Hennigan, who do you believe?
A dishonest party or George Lee.
An dishonest establishment or George Lee.


I don’t think there is any point going over the same issues again when you appear to have accepted the version of events presented in Lee’s media blitz in recent days.

Lee told the Indo yesterday that he didn’t support Bruton’s plan. He can basically say whatever suits him at this stage as its not in Fine Gael’s interest now to keep this merry-go-round on oxygen.

Why accept a self-serving version of events as fact.

Who said Lee should have produced a “grand economic plan” ?

There is a multiplicity of interlinked areas in dire need of reform.

He was an economics commentator not a practising economist and it’s ridiculous to argue that he didn’t need to bother preparing a single policy proposal himself.

To me, that simple fact sums up his level of commitment.

It is work like that is required in the Oireachtas.

If he wanted a front bench position he should have pushed for it at the outset.

He didn’t do so.

As for wanting to work with Richard Bruton, maybe the latter found him conceited and overbearing.

You have only heard a version that justifies an event that has not happened in over 50 years and let it be said again, this was not a profile in courage.

There was no sacrifice in making this drastic move.

@ Zhou

“To suggest that a TD should go away and come up with grand economic plan parallel to and possibly in contradiction of his party’s plans as developed by Richard Bruton et al at the same time is a total nonsense.”

Why so? It needn’t have been grand, but if he wanted to influence the policy formation process, then, yes, of course he should have come up with some ideas to promote, within the party in the first instance and publicly if necessary. Part of influencing policy is coming up with ideas that contradict current party policy and then persuading people (the party, the public, the expert community) to adopt your policy ideas rather than the pre-existing ones. One can also promote new ideas that don’t necessarily contradict but rather supplement existing party policy of course.

Should Richard Bruton have better exploited GL’s economic expertise? He probably should have, even though he had economic expertise as good as George’s available to him (not least his own). To a degree it looks like FG were using GL as a salesman rather than a product developer, and I can fully understand him being unhappy at that.

But that’s where politics comes in. And GL has turned out not to be very good at that alas.

@James Conran
Richard Bruton went out of his way NOT to use Lee at all. How has Richard Bruton done against the government since Lee was elected? He has failed abjectly. So, to be fair, have the rest of FG, and it was deliberate. They were colluding with the government since the Anglo 10 debate in Feb.

They may start being an active opposition now. Even if FG do oppose tooth and nail though – and I believe they don’t want power until the economy is recovering steadily – the moment of greatest opportunity has gone. So let’s see if Bruton and FG bring down the government over NAMA or the bank inquiry or Dempsey/Couglan or Harney… Actually, I know already that they won’t.

Solution: FG should join FF in government. FF are not corrupt or incompetent enough to stop FG colluding with them. Many senior FG figures – Dukes, Sutherland, Yates – backed NAMA, Lenihan and the budget and praised them hugely. Fitzgerald had reservations on the details of the budget but that’s probably an act. FG supporters in opinion polls have strikingly similar attitudes on the economy. Fitzgerald is now speaking warmly of Labour. But Dukes, and probably Fitzgerald, because Dukes has a weaker mental reservation skill, really blame Labour and not FF for the troubles of the 82-87 government. Social Democrats my foot – they were always just liberals. However, FG will never do it because it’s…always been that way.

Why don’t Labour force them together? Why shouldn’t Labour tell the truth about FG’s collusion? Well unfortunately they’ve been colluding (along with the other parties) themselves so they probably won’t. They’d have to come clean first and no Irish institution can do that. Also, according to Maurice O’Leary, an FG man, Joan Burton is a huge fan of Lenihan. He’ll nationalise the bankrupt banks. Yippee!

The only hope is that Labour and the trade unions decide to stop waiting and create a national movement with one goal: a national petition for an immediate election and a demand for a new Ireland.

“Part of influencing policy is coming up with ideas that contradict current party policy and then persuading people (the party, the public, the expert community) to adopt your policy ideas rather than the pre-existing ones. One can also promote new ideas that don’t necessarily contradict but rather supplement existing party policy of course.”

The problem is that there was not pre-existing FG policy. the policy was being formulated at the time people suggest Lee should have been coming up with his own separate policy. Bruton, O’Donnell, Varadker & McDowell were working away on creating party policy and drafting submissions in the meantime.

I agree that George Lee could have done more himself but I don’t care about him anymore. The problem is how FG operate. They ignored and sidelined him. Having been recruited by the party rather than fighting to get into it he expected that they would consult with him and not just use him for his name. He was wrong.

@ Edgar

solid work from you keeping the tempo up over the last few days. You’ve been a star addition to the team since the January transfer window opened up.

@ Michael Hennigan

There is a danger that people project onto GL attributes that they wish to see but which may not be there (in much the same way that the UK and US electorates initially projected attributes onto Tony Blair and Barack Obama). For example, Oliver Vandt wrote that “George Lee spoke out against the bubble.”

When and in precisely what terms?

As an RTE employee, he was precluded from taking sides in economic debates with a political dimension. All GL did was report the warnings of others, as was part of his job. That is not evidence of economic wisdom.

@Edgar Morgenroth
Thanks for all your work on the site.

Let’s make it 300! Greece is in the news after all.

Richard Bruton was interviewed on the Sean Moncrieff show yesterday afternoon. He was absolutely giddy with delight. He had been reviewing some entertaining documents earlier but it was a lot more than that. I have NEVER heard a politician in any interview sound so deliriously overjoyed. The FG front bench ARE shocked and they ARE angry but do you sense too that many of the economic ones especially aren’t sad to see him go? Judging by Richard Bruton’s mood he’s in seventh heaven. Put that together with only meeting Lee once and only speaking to him – the country’s finest economic communicator – three times in a deep economic crisis and you get…Politicians are professionally misleading and Irish politicians take it to a whole new level. So when Bruton claims to be sad to see Lee go I strongly suspect massive mental reservation.

@ Thanks everyone for your contributions.

There seem to be two camps. Those who think George Lee was not given a chance and those who think George did not try. I don’t think we will get agreement here. The issues his resignation raises have come up before and no doubt they will again, and it is good to give them an airing.

One way or another George resigning is certainly going to be one of the stories of the year.

One thing that did occur to me, to my own amusement it must be said, was listening to a TD from the Fine Gael party on Sean O’Rourke’s TV program The Week in Politics criticise minister John Gormley, of the Green party, about not doing enough to stop the progress of the incinerator at Poolbeg.

Minister John Gormley’s reply to her, was, I got into government as a minister and then I went about chasing this issue of the Poolbeg incinerator. The argument between the Fine Gael TD and minister Gormley, revolved around, if he had brought up the issue of Poolbeg incinerator, as an issue in forming the ‘program for government’ with Taoiseach Bertie Ahern. Minister Gormley replied he didn’t consider it appropriate to include the Poolbeg incinerator in the program for government because it was a backyard issue. At which, the Fine Gael TD took offense, saying I don’t like you calling it a backyard issue. To the constituents of Dublin east it is very important.

So there was an important issue, where John Gormley had waited years until getting into government to do something about it as presiding minister and he was criticised.

Then you have the George Lee issue, in relation to the economy, and the same Fine Gael TD, unless I am mistaken, was criticising George for not waiting until being in government.

So it seems this issue, about George Lee needing to wait until being in government is ficticious. Not matter whether you wait until you are in government, or jump the gun, and make efforts before being in government – it isn’t going to be right for certain TD’s in Fine Gael.


I suspect Edgar’s comment is meant as a wrap-up, which is probably wise after 200+ comments. But let me just add two quick points:

1) the view that “George Lee was not given a chance” is not incompatible with the view that “George did not try [hard enough]”. I think I believe both those things.

2) @ Cormac Lucey’s questioning GL’s prescience – I think this does a serious disservice to Lee. Anyone who watches his June 2006 documentary “Boom”:

will have to acknowledge he got a lot of things spot on.

What it all comes down to really, is the point contributed from the audience on Pat Kenny’s The Frontline by Elaine Byrne. There have been less than 40 private members bills introduced into legislation in Dail Eireann since the foundation of the state. While in the UK, a sort of similar political democracy, there have been almost 300 or 400 private members bills passed since 1980.

This issue is at the very heart of minister John Gormley and Poolbeg, and George Lee and the economy. Because there are so few private members bills taken very seriously, it ends up on The Week in Politics with a big ‘co-muff-ul’ as to whether minister Gormley mentioned the Poolbeg incinerator in the program for government or not. I.e. 2 no. TDs from different parties in the same constituencies playing for local political points scoring.

In fact, it is also right at the heart of Fine Gael’s and other opposition parties, and back-benchers problems. Apart from going to funerals, there seems to be no other way to harness that talent which the electorate has put into Dail Eireann. For instance, the president of the Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland was interviewed on Pat Kenny radio today, and said, there is so much work which needs to be done by the architectural profession in Ireland, with regards to future planning – but they are at a standstill at the moment.

Surely, there is some ‘spare capacity’ of talent available on the back benches in Dail Eireann to supervise even minimal planning and development exercises?


@James Conran
Spot on re. point 2. I’ve heard it said that Richard Bruton knew the bubble would burst but, you see, he just couldn’t say it publicly. Bruton was in Leinster House and was free to speak but kept silent. Lee was in RTE but took the risk and the backlash.

That sums them up.

I looked up Edgar’s homepage. He is a serious economist with serious output. Where can I find George’s research output. Will FG provide me with his working papers from its Economic Forum.

Reading between the lines on this story… It’s clear that Leinster House was not big enough for Mr Richard Bruton and Mr George Lee.

George was more aligned with Enda Kenny, however it is clear that Enda’s days are coming to a close. Hence when Enda goes, George Lee loses his main supporter in FG. So it was obvious George jumped ship to get back into RTE as there was no point in hanging around in FG.

While I accept George Lee may not have published much academic work in the past, he was still better than many of the other codgers in Leinster house who called themselves politicans.

FG have undoubtedly caused themselves much harm, which is what they are best at over the last 30 years.

The only winners in this are the media, they must be raking it in.

@ E65bn and numerous other aliases….

“Bruton was in Leinster House and was free to speak but kept silent. Lee was in RTE but took the risk and the backlash.”

So we’re praising journalists for reporting the news now? Talk about setting the bar low…

@ consaw,

If you really heard what I had to think, you wouldn’t like it one single iota.

Namely, that because George Lee and the media were beginning to see right through, of Dail Eireann’s inability to ‘fix the economy’, the ideal thing to do, to buy some more time and keep the government intact, was to throw George Lee a bone, and pretend he was going to have a part to play. That is why the opposition party in Dail Eireann came looking for George, and rightly led him down the garden path. It worked, beautifully. Especially, this play by Enda Kenny to convince George, he was doing something really special for his own family. What is so beautiful now, is now that George has copped them, they can say he wasn’t up to the task of politics.

It is a kind of ‘Tallaght Strategy’ were Fine Gael agree to gag the media, and in exchange, Fianna Fail step aside and allow them play government for a while, further down the road. After 30 no. years as a politician for deputy Bruton, and deputy Kenny is hanging around there since 1975 (my entire lifespan to date) – it is not as if Kenny and Bruton are strangers around Dail Eireann. Rather they are like as Morgan Freeman’s character said in Shawshank Redemption of that old guy who pushed the cart full of books and keep a crow in his cell.

But being that harsh to those 2 no. fine public servants, I will try to place my comments into a much larger context altogether. We have to stop sucker punching one another.

The new internet age that we are living through (and George Lee needs to learn some manners also, in this regard) is like a virus. The internet age has taken every single institution that you can think of and turned it inside out. David McWilliams published an article in last weekend’s Sunday Business Post about the recent web conference in Trinity college, which he attended. The fellow who founded Craig’s List spoke there, and his web concept has completely sucked the classified business out of traditional media. Yet Craig’s List only employs 30 no. people.

David McWilliams called in the wonderful real world of Narnia. If you ever read Yochai Benkler’s book, The Wealth of Nations (required reading for every single economist here, and yeah the title is very brave) you will hear Benkler describe the battle that is playing out in the world at the moment. Between new and old media. This extends right to politics also. Where the internet is actually beginning to affect politics. The strategy to date, has been one of where old media tries to cling onto its ground, and reinforces copyright and other laws to give itself breathing space. So that it becomes a crime to draw a cartoon of Mickey Mouse on your copy book in school almost, because you are infringing on old media’s copyright.

These are the times we live in. Tom Dunne on Newstalk 106, said only the other day, the latest statistic is that over 90% of music downloaded on the web, is illegally downloaded. It is in this context you have to view all of what I said above. You have to listen to someone such as Nicholas G. Carr, who wrote The Big Switch and Does IT Matter to understand, the pressure traditional journalism has come under. Will there be any money left in that business model, for real investigative journalism any more? Sure, a lot of cobwebs need to be swept away. Sure, procedures do need to change. But the first ones to strike will be career politicians, career journalists, whose very existence is under threat. And the political mentors etc like Eoghan Harris, Vincent Browne, Sam Symth who criticised politicians, but that in turn gave them a good living.

We have to look at this internet age, and realise, we have to strike some sort of balance. We cannot afford this thing to over-correct either way. It will be tough I think, to keep it all in balance. I just wanted to add that, because I have been so rude to politicians above in comparing them to New York families etc. I hope in due time, George Lee as well, will be able to find some peace with the system, some happy balance. But we have to stop sucker punching one another. BOH.

If Enda Kenny was a George Lee supporter he had a strange way of showing it. I think that Enda Kenny did what the establishment told him. He could have been Taoiseach now with immense authority. Instead I think he did what Richard Bruton and the FG grandees told him and tacitly cooperated on NAMA and the establishment’s bank strategy and froze George Lee out. He did this in spite of the fact that the FG grandees despise him. Now, for doing that, Kenny has become a politically kept man. Bruton can remove him – and he may well never wish to – whenever he chooses. It’s not just the media and the government who won. It’s total victory for the establishment. They’ve driven the turbulent priest out and Kenny is now far to weak to ever challenge them.

George Lee fought the canon law – and the canon law won. In Ireland it always does.

@ James Conran

Thanks for that reference.

I had used Google searching for evidence of George Lee’s prescience but had been unsuccessful. Your reference to “Boom” makes clear that GL had given a clear warning in 2006 of the credit-rooted dangers then facing the economy.

@Brian O’Hanlon
FG compare it to Saipan. Now we look back on Saipan and realise Roy Keane was a hugely difficult but hugely talented player, whereas previously most blamed Mick McCarthy. This is different though.

FG are as ethically questionable as the FAI.
FG are as incompetent as the FAI.
FG are as cliqueish as the FAI.
But Mick McCarthy was the employee of the FAI, whereas Enda Kenny used to be the leader. Now he’s reduced to FG’s manager – who’s just got the dreaded vote of confidence.

However, unlike Mick McCarthy, Kenny/Bruton:
Hardly fielded Lee, the Roy Keane of Irish politics, even in crucial matches, EVEN THOUGH HE WANTED TO PLAY.
Unlike Mick McCarthy who made Roy Keane captain, FG froze him out.
Reading David McWilliams, who worked with him, it’s clear George Lee is nowhere near as difficult as Roy Keane, and Enda Kenny as a future Taoiseach and Bruton as a future Minister for Finance ought to have been much better in managing him. What Kenny/Bruton and FG did was MUCH, MUCH WORSE than Mick McCarthy in Saipan.

The FG leadership DROVE Lee out. Why wouldn’t they? FG are just the less successful (duller/posher/more angrily reactionary) wing of the establishment that has run and repeatedly ruined this country for 88 years.

At the risk of having this thread collapse under the weight of comments I’ll add one more as I’m totally bemused by the reaction to the antics of one TD.

When George Lee entered the Dail FG’s policy-making exercise was well developed, its political strategy – and the key personnel charged with executing it – was well-defined (irrespective of any external views on its effectiveness) and positions on Oireachtas Committees had been allocated. Within the existing arrangements – both within FG and the Dail – there was relatively for George to do expect learn the ropes and use his undoubted communication skills to help FG get its message across.

Any TD who isn’t a minister is simply wandering in a desert. We can’t complain about the calibre of TDs – or the disenchantment of those who might have some calibre – if we give them nothing purposeful to do – except, perhaps, act as agents for their constituents in their dealings with the bureaucracy.

The following link to a Committee session:
on the relatively important issue of economic regulation which pits a cross-section of TDs against some senior representatives of the permanent government is both entertaining and enlightening.

@ Paul

ah, but GL was the great white hope who was going to lead us to the promised land! I’m paraphrasing Lenihan somewhat there, and it was a heavily schadenfruede-filled and OTT statement from him, but FG did clearly oversell both FG to GL, as well as GL to the voting public.

Never before has expectations management, on all sides (including the public themselves) been so clearly out of step with the far more boring reality of day-to-day politics in Dail Eireann…

@ Oliver Vandt,

I really don’t know what to make of you……

You’re like the Duracell Bunny, you just keep going and going….

Don’t take this the wrong way, but you post so much I wonder do you have a normal job?

You dislike the way this country is run so much that I wonder how can you stomach living here at all? Do you live in Ireland? Are you trying to undermine the country from the outside? Do you seriously believe the world recession is the fault of FF and the Church?

Have you lived in any other country, apart from Ireland? Ireland has it’s problems but so does every other country. There are other countries which have worse human rights records and corruption rates than Ireland.

I am starting to think you are just anti establishment. It does not matter what party is in Govt, even if it was Jim Henderson’s Muppets, you would still be slating them.

Seriously E65, E43, Politicsdotaiyee, Oliver you are starting to embarress yourself. You need to get a grip man / woman (delete as appropriate).

Maybe we should all club together and get you on a holiday? Any takers?

@ Brian O’Hanlon

The internet age has taken every single institution that you can think of and turned it inside out.

This seems so 1999!

Creative destruction has been around much longer than the web.

Self-interest, common interest, a system of laws, equitable justice and accountability to the people – – these issues transcend changes in technology.

Despite the legacy of FF, it’s easy to see how a portion of the electorate, currently disenchanted, could again be beguiled as some of the reaction to GL’s bombshell, in accepting his version of events without question and without assuming there was any self-interest on his part, highlights again how normally rational people can suspend reason.

@ Sporthog

This OV is a classic troll.

He beatifies GL and in support uses an RTÉ colleague’s endorsement of Lee to bolster his case!


Agree completely about the disjunction between expectations and reality. But for me, the lesson is, not to grind down the expectations – easy as that might be, but to enhance the authority of the Oireachtas so that our public representatives have a more purposeful existence. Who knows, we might even attract a better calibre of public representative and see the enactment of more rational economic policies.

I feel – and I may be insulting you – that your reaction is the embodiment of the Irish establishment.

You wrote:
“Don’t take this the wrong way, but you post so much I wonder do you have a normal job?”
No, I’m a part of the Irish establishment, so I am secretive, selfish, collusive, corrupt and vicious. Being warped I also believe that all my critics are equally blackly motivated.

So, if I had a poorly paying job, or worse still – like 430,000 others – no job, my views, unlike say Brian Lenihan of the disastrous bank guarantee, carry no weight. In spite of having wrecked the country we must listen to him uncritically because he is one of our betters.
“You dislike the way this country is run so much that I wonder how can you stomach living here at all?”
After the economic collapse and the banking collapse many people are coming to the same conclusion. After previous collapses many came to it and emigrated. Today, even if they’d like to stay they are being forced out by the establishment. 60,000 left up to April 2009. More will follow, probably a huge number when the US and UK economies pick up.
“Do you live in Ireland?”
Born and long-time resident – that’s important to the Irish establishment, when a crisis hits. Before the crisis non-Irish born newcomers are to be celebrated. After the crisis, the establishment turn on them (see FG Mayor of Limerick).
“Are you trying to undermine the country from the outside?”
As stated above, being warped the Irish establishment believe that all their critics are equally blackly motivated.
“Do you seriously believe the world recession is the fault of FF and the Church?”
“Have you lived in any other country, apart from Ireland? Ireland has it’s problems but so does every other country. There are other countries which have worse human rights records and corruption rates than Ireland.”
Worse human rights records? My God. Why do you consider Irish people inferior? Surely we deserve the highest standards of governance in the world.

“I am starting to think you are just anti establishment.”
I am certainly anti our establishment. Frank Fahey was FF’s second most prominent NAMA spokesman. What does that say?

“It does not matter what party is in Govt, even if it was Jim Henderson’s Muppets, you would still be slating them.”
If FG are as bad as FF/PDs/GP then not if either are in government, no.

“Seriously E65, E43, Politicsdotaiyee, Oliver you are starting to embarress yourself. You need to get a grip man / woman (delete as appropriate).”
And your message to Mary Coughlan?

“Maybe we should all club together and get you on a holiday? Any takers?”
I hope you are FF as that sounds like a bribe! But after George Lee, you’re as likely to be FG.

@ Sporthog

a long long long time ago, i told ALL of you that The Artist Formerly Known as E65bn was clinically insane, but no, no, no, NONE of you would listen to me. I trust you all believe me now…

@Michael Hennigan
“This OV is a classic troll.”
For the record I am not a troll and I agree with many of your views and find your website valuable.

“He beatifies GL and in support uses an RTÉ colleague’s endorsement of Lee to bolster his case!”
I didn’t beatify Lee – read my posts. But are you beatifying Richard Bruton? McWilliams is not on the staff of RTE, I would assume, but he knows George Lee well and worked with him. Now, you’re going to say McWilliams is an anti-FG troll. Read his article closely. You will see that one of the key ways Lee could have helped FG is in selling their good bank plan. Instead Richard Bruton tried and (deliberately?) failed. Bruton utterly failed. His plan was hardly discussed. Bruton could have worked with Lee to immense effect, but he didn’t. In a way, tacit collusion with the rest of the establishment is the more honourable motive for Bruton. Otherwise, he must be mean, vindictive, dishonourable and a political failure. Actually, it may be both. Bruton’s delirium on the day after Lee’s resignation showed his true face.

Take off your blue tinted glasses Mr Hennigan. This is a huge loss to those who want real change in Ireland. It may be a huge loss to FG but that is only if FG want real change. After George Lee I believe that they don’t.

@ Oliver Vandt,

I think we could call your above post…. “The confession of Oliver Vandt”

I have a new name for you…. Terminator. Because you never stop…ever.

Good to hear you have a well paying job, but I still believe you need a holiday. Make sure you get one this summer at the least.

@ Paul Hunt,

Thanks for those contributions above, it was interesting to get your perspectives on this matter.

I penned something quickly, over at the blog this evening, in order to respond to some of the latest comments above.

@ Michael Hennigan,

Have at a look at Lawerence Lessig’s book, Code some time, regarding the internet and the law.

I think he labelled his latest edition Code 2.0, because he filled it out with new sections from interaction with others on wikipedia.

Web authors, what can you do.


This is fast deteriorating into a slagging match, which is hardly much addition to this blog – I suspect this thread has run its course. There will be plenty more opportunities to rehearse the arguments.

@Michael Hennigan – Finfacts
I can only speak for myself.

While I knew that George Lee felt strongly about what was going on in the economy, I was still amazed when he decided to run for the Dail and I am even more amazed that he resigned.

It is easy to criticise him and/or Fine Geal, but one quickly ends up in personal attacks, which I have no desire to get into. The whole thing leaves a lot of questions to which we probably won’t get the full answers.

However, one thing is certain, other ‘celebrities’ and indeed those who have an established career outside of politics are a lot less likely to be candidates for the next election – that is a great shame (I have no desire nor would I be entitled to run).

Whatever one might think about the views of ‘celebrity economists’, and I can say that I do not agree with everything they say or the way they say it, there is no doubt that the Dail would benefit from more expertise in a range of areas.

This has without doubt been a bruising experience for both George Lee and FG, but there are much bigger questions.

What are the incentives to go into politics and what are the costs?? What impact does a backbencher or an opposition TD really have? ….

I have no doubt we will return to these issues in the future.

Finally, I think this blog in particular has been a great vehicle to critically and publicly analyse all kinds of economic issues, decisions and recomendations including those by ‘celebrity economists’.

“Finally, I think this blog in particular has been a great vehicle to critically and publicly analyse all kinds of economic issues, decisions and recomendations including those by ‘celebrity economists’.”

Indeed. But what I’ve gathered from the kerfuffle is that neither the government nor the main opposition party has any mechanisms for (and perhaps no interest in) doing any serious work on economic policy-making.


Jack Murphy went to Canada after resigning his Dail seat.

The Dail was disillusioning for him and I suppose George Lee was not cut out for the “Yerra Yerra Killorglin needs an international airport” culture.

However I have misgivings of his being able to waltz back to RTÉ and €150 000 a year after saying that his departure was for good.

Would you take anything he said seriously after this episode?

Massive interest in his passing.

Most posts I have seen on this site for any topic.

This suggests his brand has increased in value and that there is no such thing as bad publicity.

How to capitalize on this? If only he was interested in an independent approach…. oh yes, a bit of a maverick, yet honourable enough not to compromise into an existing vested interest, like FG.

Political parties are “A conspiracy to establish dominance in public affairs, manned by the dull, talentless and craven who know that bribery of voters friends and colleagues is the route to power.”

As G Lee had talent and was popular he was a threat to FG more than to FF! There will be no change at FF, so it is the stickies or FG. Or a new party……

BJ Goggin
“Indeed. But what I’ve gathered from the kerfuffle is that neither the government nor the main opposition party has any mechanisms for (and perhaps no interest in) doing any serious work on economic policy-making.”
Unless there is money to be made by their friends. It is a kleptocracy!

Brian O’ Hanlon
Good posts!

Pat Donnelly quoted me as saying “But what I’ve gathered from the kerfuffle is that neither the government nor the main opposition party has any mechanisms for (and perhaps no interest in) doing any serious work on economic policy-making.”

It’s not really relevant to the resignation of George Lee, but I noted yesterday the enthusiasm with which Fine Gael mounted attacks on two ministers. The party seems to be far better at that sort of time-wasting unimportant activity than at thinking about economic (or any other) policy. I don’t vote for any of the parties in the current government or opposition, but I think it would be nice to have an intelligent opposition (I suppose an intelligent government would be too much to ask for).

Declaration of interest: Willie O’Dea once came to canvass, wearing a long coat. He opened the gate and let my dog out. I remonstrated. Willie, coat tails flapping, ran down the road after the dog and brought him back. I thanked him but I wondered about his choice of career.


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