TDs saw writing on wall for Lee long before Kenny
Published 13/02/2010 | 05:00
A GROUP of Fine Gael TDs offered to lobby party leader Enda Kenny in favour of a frontbench promotion for George Lee shortly before his resignation.
The party's Wexford TD, Michael D'Arcy, and three other concerned backbenchers, made the offer after noticing that Mr Lee's "body language" was wrong in the run up to the Christmas break.
They were also alerted by the RTE 'Drivetime' radio column broadcast earlier this month by commentator Olivia O'Leary, who warned Fine Gael that they had to "use or lose" George Lee.
Mr D'Arcy confirmed that he had arranged a meeting with Mr Lee shortly after the radio broadcast.
"I went to speak with George on the basis that there were four backbench TDs who were prepared to go to Enda and ask him to promote George to the front bench," he told the Irish Independent.
Mr D'Arcy said he then asked Mr Lee if it was okay to do that on his behalf.
"He said he had been speaking with Enda and expected to have a full conversation with Enda. We held off until that was to happen," he said.
When Mr D'Arcy spoke with the Dublin South TD again, he said he asked how the conversation had gone.
"He gave me the impression that it had went in the right direction.
"I thought he was going to be brought on to the frontbench. I didn't realise he had spoken on the Tuesday with Enda about resigning," he said. But Mr D'Arcy, who was one of those in Fine Gael closer to Mr Lee, said nobody should diminish the fact that Mr Lee participated in politics and he wanted to "wish him well" for the future.
Mr Lee yesterday said constituency work had nothing to do with his decision to resign.
"I was doing the constituency work as much as anybody else. All you have to do is take out the last couple of issues of the 'Dundrum Gazette' or 'Lifetimes' (local newspapers in South Dublin); and then there were so many other things I did that have nothing to do with local newspapers," he said.
But Mr Lee said that while he went into politics to serve his constituents, he also wanted to contribute to party policy. "It was the economic crisis which drove me in there and dealing with that has been very frustrating in the party," he said. And he called for a change in the economic mindset in the Dail, which he said he had found hard to overcome. "The mystery which the now 165 TDs have to solve is how are they are going to fix our jobs crisis, our banking crisis and our public finances crisis? Do they really believe the policies they have been proposing for the last few years are the way forward?"