Lee returns to current affairs after 'time out' in RTÉ shake-up
NEARLY THREE years after he quit politics abruptly, RTÉ’s former economics editor George Lee is to return to current affairs.
Lee will become the economics commentator for Prime Time as part of a shake-up of RTÉ News announced yesterday.
Lee had a pivotal role in RTÉ News during the boom and subsequent bust period before announcing his resignation in May 2009 to stand as a Fine Gael candidate in the Dublin South byelection.
Despite being elected in a landslide with 53 per cent of the popular vote, he quit eight months later citing a lack of influence on Fine Gael economic policies at the time.
His decision was criticised in political circles, with his director of elections Brian Hayes saying he was “going back to his cushy number in Donnybrook”.
Since returning to RTÉ, Lee has been steadily increasing his profile and now presents The Business programme on RTÉ Radio One.
RTÉ news and current affairs managing director Kevin Bakhurst said Lee had had his “time out” from news journalism and “now is absolutely the time to bring him back. He’s a top journalist in an important field.”
Mr Hayes said he would not have any difficulty with Lee reporting on his former party colleagues. “He has clearly severed his connection with politics. I don’t think there is any credibility issue. He has a great ability to explain complicated economic issues to people.”
Pat Kenny will present a strand of Prime Time while his Frontline programme will be moved to the earlier slot of 9.30pm.
Claire Byrne will join the Prime Time team and Miriam O’Callaghan will remain as the other presenter.
The most significant introduction will be a new television news programme from 9am to 11am every day on RTÉ One starting early next year.
Mr Bakhurst said the programme will consist of news, sport and weather, but not so-called lifestyle features. “It has got to fit on News Now,” he said. He anticipated the new programme would be financed by the savings from not running bought-in programmes on RTÉ in that slot and increased advertising revenue.
He stressed that it would not be in lieu of a long-mooted breakfast programme on RTÉ which would cost too much money.
The Week in Politics, which has become an agenda-setting programme, will transmit live on Sundays at midday on RTÉ One along with its traditional late night slot.
The appointment of a new editor for Prime Time, following the Fr Kevin Reynolds debacle, will be made soon along with the appointments of the head of investigations unit and the managing editor of television news.