Monday 18 December 2017

Fianna Fail cries foul over return to RTE on full salary

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

FIANNA Fail politicians gleefully lined up to take a pop at RTE yesterday, saying it was "unbelievable in the current climate" that George Lee could walk back to the national broadcaster on his full salary.

There should be new protocols and procedures governing well-known RTE personalities who run for elected office, they claimed.

Former Fine Gael TD George Lee is allowed to return to Montrose on his previous salary, understood to be around €150,000, but he will not be able to return to his previous position of Economics Editor.

He will have to go through a quarantine period before he is allowed back to the editorial staff to prevent accusations of bias being levelled at RTE.

Fianna Fail backbencher Peter Kelly said it was "unbelievable" that Mr Lee could return to the broadcaster at all after his eight months in the Dail.

"The former Fine Gael TD has quit politics and has indicated that he is to return to a big job in RTE," Mr Kelly, vice-chair of the Oireachtas Communications Committee said. "I find this completely unbelievable, particularly in the current economic climate."


Several sitting TDs are teachers whose jobs in school have been held open for them for years. However, Mr Kelly claimed that such instances were not the same as Mr Lee's job being kept open. "The system whereby other people, like teachers and barristers, return to their jobs after their time on a career break is over is well established, and there are good reasons for it," he insisted.

"But it is different with RTE. They are supposed to be imparting the news in an independent, dispassionate and detached fashion. To have a revolving door, as seems to be the case for some individuals, is hardly right.

"If people leave RTE to enter politics they should not be able to flit back in the door if they cannot cope," Mr Kelly added.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fail senator Terry Leyden asked Minister for Communications Eamon Ryan to draw up protocols and procedures for RTE personalities running for public office.

Labour senator Alex White -- who finished second to Mr Lee in last year's by-election and who is favourite to now take the seat -- asked when the by-election in Dublin South would be held. Mr White himself left Montrose 16 years ago after working as a radio producer.

Irish Independent

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