Sunday 19 January 2020

Was Lee right to quit? NO, says Kevin O'Shaughnessy

Thanks George. You've wasted my vote and that of 27,767 of my fellow constituents.

You deceived us as thoroughly as any con artist. You shamelessly hoodwinked us into giving you our first preferences, convincing everyone you were serious.

Serious about the job of representing the people of South Dublin. Serious about being a powerful voice in Dail Eireann. Serious about using your famed economic acumen to help steer this country out of financial ruin.

Turns out it was all just a charade, a joke.

You have treated the democratic process with disdain, using it to fuel some ego-driven flight of fancy to be abandoned at a whim.

Last May, you set up camp outside SuperValu in Churchtown, Dublin, and, to give you your due, you were heroically persistent.

For weeks on end, anyone wishing to buy so much as a pint of milk would first have to accept your enthusiastic handshake and listen to your pleadings for a number one.

You seemed to live outside that shop, you and your long black coat, oblivious to the breeze whipping down from the Dublin mountains, as you tirelessly accosted every defenceless little old lady pushing a shopping trolley.

It wasn't just the grannies. All ages, all nationalities, all sexes. All fair game for the George Lee charm machine.

Watching you, talking to you, it was easy to see you had the stomach for the fight. You weren't just a celebrity parachute candidate. You wanted it bad.

Your country needed you and you were willing, nay desperate, to serve.

More than that, you would be honoured -- yes, honoured is what you said to me outside SuperValu -- to represent the people of South Dublin in Dail Eireann.


You could only do so much in RTE, you said, the Dail is where you could make a real impact, where you could bring about real change.

Well, Saint George, bring yourself back out to Churchtown this morning and tell all those people how much you really valued all those first preferences.

Nine months on, exactly what has changed?

You have become disillusioned? Anyone who has worked as a journalist in RTE for 17 years, frequently attending the Dail, knows full well that backbench TDs, especially opposition backbench TDs, are a powerless, docile herd.

So don't try to take us for fools again by pretending that this is some sudden realisation.

You didn't get to mastermind the Fine Gael economic policy? If you had a problem with Enda Kenny, you could have left the party. The people of South Dublin didn't vote for you because you wore a blue shirt.

We voted for you because you were George Lee, because you promised to be a strong voice in the Dail. You promised to preach economic sense to the dunderheads. You promised to do your best.

Nobody expected miracles from you, just a bit more competence and honesty than we have come to expect from many of our public representatives.

You said you had the stomach for the fight. You lied.

You said you would be honoured to represent us in the Dail. You lied.

Some 27,768 people trusted you enough to give you their first preference. You have thrown that trust back in their faces.

Kevin O'Shaughnessy is a constituent of Dublin South who voted for George Lee in last June's by-election.

Irish Independent

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