Tuesday 22 October 2019

How star used his eight months in corridors of power

Aine Kerr

May 6, 2009: Fine Gael finally unveils the "well-known" candidate it has been promising for weeks. To the shock of political and media observers, RTE's Economics Editor George Lee is to contest the seat vacated by the late Fianna Fail TD Seamus Brennan.

May 15: In the immediate aftermath of Mr Lee's decision to contest the Dublin South by-election, Fine Gael experiences a surge in support and increases to 38pc in the opinion polls.

JUNE 6: The economist is elected on the first count with more than 53pc of the vote. He receives an astounding 27,768 first-preference votes.

June 8: Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny describes the result as "spectacular" but has no plans for a reshuffle.

June 11: During his maiden speech, Mr Lee memorably claims three government ministers and junior ministers are sleeping.

NOVEMBER 3: Enda Kenny announces that he and Mr Lee will lead the party's business and economic team in a series of meetings with employers and other business leaders throughout the country.

NOVEMBER 17: Investigative work by Mr Lee reveals the number of FAS managers has ballooned to 300 with a pay bill of €24m.

NOVEMBER 20: Fianna Fail claims Mr Lee is at odds with his party on plans to shave €4bn off the public finances. While Mr Lee is accused of arguing €4bn is "too much", his colleagues take the opposite approach.

NOVEMBER 29: In the run-up to the Budget, Mr Lee claims the country is being "bullied" into correcting its public finances too quickly and there is a danger of turning the recession into a depression.

DECEMBER 13: Former Fine Gael leader Alan Dukes accuses Mr Lee of talking rubbish, adding that he hasn't "transitioned into the politician that you'd expect".

DECEMBER 14: Fianna Fail accuses Mr Lee of "trashing" his own party's budget policy over his stance on PRSI.

JANUARY 16: In a not-so- subtle hint to Fine Gael HQ -- with no offer of a frontbench position -- Mr Lee warns he won't be hanging around for a decade to have influence.

Irish Independent

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