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Hero's welcome at RTE as ex economic editor quips about taking bird's US job

George Lee received a hero's welcome from his former RTE colleagues after announcing his resignation from Fine Gael.

The former economic editor made his valiant return to Montrose to appear on the Six One News to discuss his reasons for suddenly standing down from the party and the Dail, just eight months after his election.

A number of his former colleagues were eager to show their support for Mr Lee and waited to greet him after the bulletin.

A source exclusively revealed to the Herald: "He was warmly greeted by staff and former colleagues.

"He was embraced by several former colleagues, who rushed up to greet him. George is still very well regarded among those in the newsroom."

Mr Lee has been on unpaid leave of absence from the national broadcaster since deciding to pursue his political career with Fine Gael last year.

RTE has confirmed his leave will be ongoing until May. He is expected to resume working at the station at the beginning of the summer but is unlikely to resume his old position as economic editor.

But it seems there is no bad blood between the outspoken economic expert and his former colleagues.

The source said Mr Lee was in extremely good spirits after his interview with Brian Dobson about his resignation from Fine Gael. "He was in very high spirits and cracking jokes. He was happy and smiling as he greeted staff. He is held in very high esteem. People weren't shy about offering him their support after what many believe was a brave move to stand down," said the source.

During his interview, the RTE newsroom came to "rare standstill" as his former colleagues were glued to TV sets to hear him speak.

George is even said to have joked with colleagues ahead of his live interview that he might be the ideal man for the Washington job, following Charlie Bird's recent long-winded resignation. George is said to have quipped back: "And Charlie could come back and stand for Fine Gael."