A baby, adolescent or man of honour?

GEORGIE, Georgie, said goodbye, quit his seat and made them cry.

Well, not quite. Plenty of people at the Dundrum shopping centre in the heart of the Dublin South constituency were angry with George Lee’s decision to resign his seat, but many others backed his move.

Maureen and Felix Fanning, from Rathfarnham, were firmly in the George camp. They had voted for Fianna Fáil until last year’s by-election, when Lee’s star power caused them to switch to Fine Gael.

“He is an honest, wonderful man who is a man of principle,” Maureen said.

“He saw a lot of things in nine months [in the Dáil] that we would not see in a lifetime.”

Strong backing there, but Michael and Breda Fitzpatrick, from Churchtown, did not share that view. “He threw his toys out of the pram,” Michael said. “It’s great – Fianna Fáil will win the seat back.”

Anne Towey, from Harold’s Cross but whose family in Dublin South voted for Lee last year.

“I thought it was a prima donna thing to do,” she said of his decision to go. “There are two sides to it – at least he had the guts to walk.”

But, she said, she ultimately felt that leaving after just nine months reflected an “adolescent attitude” on the part of the former – and possibly future – RTÉ man. “In my view, to an extent, he has let [the voters] down,” she said.

Pat and Agnes Finn were happy with Lee’s decision. “It’s the right thing to do if you are not happy,” Pat, from Ballinteer, said. “He went in there to do a job and he was not doing it.”

In his view, George Lee was not there to serve constituents but to look at “the bigger picture” and shape legislation to help the economy.

“He gave up a good job to go to a lesser paid job but with more responsibility,” he said, while Agnes said Lee was “a man of honour”.

Gary Wright, originally from Tyrone but living in Terenure, said: “I am disappointed he has stepped down.

“If he was putting his voice forward and nothing was coming of it, then maybe he was right in going... It is going to be bad for Fine Gael as a whole.”

That was a popular view among the shoppers yesterday.

Morgan Mullooly from Donegal felt Lee had lost some credibility but others viewed it as a failure of the Fine Gael party to make the most of its talents.

One woman whizzing past remarked: “If Enda Kenny was your leader wouldn’t you leave too?”

Vincent McMonagle was less complimentary about Mr Lee’s decision to leave Fine Gael and resign his seat: “He is bottling it, like all politicians.”


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