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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: May 6, 2009 @ 7:50 pm

    St George seeks to slay FF Dragon

    Deaglán de Bréadún

    Print journalists are wallflowers in the dancehall of life. We subsist in the shadow of our colleagues in television who have access to people’s livingrooms night after night and may be even more real to the public than members of their own family.

    St George (Raphael)

    Now and then they sprinkle a little of their stardust in our direction. And when one of them decides to enter politics there is a whole boatload of excess glamour for us mere scriveners to reach out and grasp with our inkstained little fingers.

    So it has been in the last two days with the news that George Lee, economics guru to the nation, has thrown his hat in the ring for Fine Gael in the Dublin South by-election on June 5th.

    Televisionland won’t be the same without Lee’s nightly injection of hardnosed realism to jolt us from our transient and evanescent dreams of prosperity. We are like the tramp who thought he’d found a winning Lotto ticket only to be disabused by the soberfaced keepers of the gold.

    Only once in my life did I feel I had won something. There was a draw at the summer carnival in Courtown when I was a wee nipper. I looked at my ticket and saw the winning-number: Six. It glowed at me like a starburst, but when I stepped forward to collect my winnings, the cruel reality was revealed. My six turned out to be a nine. Hendrix later made a song out of it: at least say you wrote it for me, Jimi.

    It was the very same with the Celtic Tiger. George Lee was the man who told us: your so-called winning bet is a beaten docket pal. But there is one final act in the drama and how appropriate that St George should now be offering himself in the role of slayer of the Fianna Fáil dragon. 

    FF were the pied pipers of the boom who danced the nation to the edge of the cliff from whose ledge it now clings so plaintively. But before that tuft of grass the people are clutching finally gives way and they plunge into the abyss, they can still use their free hand to exact what an Irish patriot famously called “Vingeance, Bejasus” on the soothsayers who are seen to have conned them into believing they could be as good as anyone else – or even better.

    Whatever one may think of his political choices and affiliations, Lee’s bravery has to be admired. Giving up one of the best jobs in journalism to take his chances on what Bertie once called “the hustlings” shows a rare faith in providence.

    Even if he wins, he still has to hold his seat in the general election and there are already two strong FG incumbents in Dublin South in the persons of Olivia Mitchell and Alan Shatter. If he loses, RTE can hardly give him such a politically-sensitive post again. And while FF don’t seem to have a great chance in ’South, don’t count them out nationally just yet. That “dragon” has more than one head.

    • An Fear Bolg says:

      If Nob Nation is anything to go by I imagine the media will give him a hard time. However, as you say, it’s a brave move and gives some hope to us poor voters – as opposed to more of the usual, a.k.a another FF dynasty. According to FF’s twitter feed, Shay Brennan has been selected. His father was one of the best FF ministers that ever was, but we should vote for him for that reason?

    • Betterworld Now says:

      The Blessed George Lee has foolishly sacrificed himself on the altar of one political machine, a machine that, like all other political parties, ensures that only the truly corrupt, the truly vile and the truly unprincipled make it to the top. The idealists, the intellectuals and the gifted are ground up and spat out, mere fuel to propel the machine to the next election.

      Poor George Lee will be used, abused and discarded in due course when his talent or idealism gets in the way of political expediency. That will be yet another sad day for Irish democracy – but a lesson for us all that we are living through a constitutional crisis masked by an endlessly-repeating economic one.

      We need a new democratic system, a democratic system of political representation which guarantees that the most able and talented Irish men and women are available to contribute their talents to the proper governance of the country.

      Our current system prevents that. And deliberately so.

      The 1937 Constitution, largely the legacy of John Charles McQuaid, was written primarily as a bulwark against communism, and has now become a millstone around the neck of our nation.

      The current democratic system scares away talent and promotes sleeveenism. Is it any wonder that we are now led by the inheritor of a post he gained by being both lowest common denominator and the highest common factor within a political mafia established for the sole purpose of taking political power in order to wield it for its own benefit?

      George Lee will become a yet another casualty of a political system designed to ensure that idealism, intellect and education will always be trumped by gombeenism and clientelism.

      Me – I’d ban political parties standing for election and ensure that each candidate ran as an independent with their campaign spending capped at a very low level and state funding of one or two voter information leaflets covering all candidates in each constituency. Apart from cutting down on landfill, it would have the benefit of exposing the tissue of lies that graces the current output of the party presses.

      Under those circumstances, George Lee and other talented individuals would be able to get elected to Dáil Éireann without having to sell their souls to any political mafia.

    • Deaglán says:

      FF on Twitter, what would Mr de Valera say?

    • Kynos says:

      Poss. something like “We cnt affrd idlnss inefficncy & waste as 11 yrs of FF gov proves.”

    • An Fear Bolg says:

      He’d be all for it?

      “IE we dreamd of = €€€ only for rt living, ppl happy w/frugal comfort; laughter of happy maidens w/firesides for wisdom of serene old age.”

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