Saturday 18 January 2020

By George, why did you decide to leave?

George Lee's sudden declaration of resignation is quite simply one of the most astounding private decisions taken in Irish political history.

Everything about Mr Lee's foray into politics has been remarkable: the newsflash that greeted his decision to enter politics, followed by the unprecedented wave of support given to a new, first-time candidate.

The by-election campaign caught the public imagination, culminating in the eye-watering mandate of 27,000 votes from a single constituency.

I personally devoted much of my spare time, as well as donating a week of annual leave, to campaign for him.

Others, many never having been involved in politics before, made a similar contribution, and were happy to do so given that we all believed he was going to make a special impact on Irish politics. His decision means that all those efforts have meant nothing.

I myself ran as a political candidate when the chances of success were initially considered remote because I was willing to take whatever slim opportunity there was available to get elected to the Oireachtas in order to put views across and support the political change that I wanted to see.

Most people have to complete many years of onerous campaigning work before they can even begin to have a slight chance of getting elected to the Dail.

How one person could abruptly give up something so valuable as a seat in the Dáil as well as a distinctive and influential profile in a party largely predicted to be leading the next Government beggars belief.

I am disappointed that Mr Lee claims that he could not adequately contribute. I am particularly surprised that he felt he could not satisfactorily communicate with Richard Bruton on economic policy, given that I have raised policy suggestions with Mr Bruton before and personally found him very receptive to new ideas, despite the humble source.

I felt that it was inevitable that Mr Lee would have been a minister within two years, and then he would have had a gilt-edged opportunity to make a significant contribution.

I simply do not understand the mindset behind his decision.

John Kennedy
Dublin 14

Irish Independent

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