Irlande, Nul Points

First the mildly funny story.  It emerged this morning that since 2003, more than 18,000 people cases of serious road traffic offences have been brought to court in Ireland and convicted of.  Of those, it would appear that just over 700 of those cases were ever given penalty points, although points were indicated from the hearings.  The reason?  Apparently court clerks in Ireland aren’t responsible for lodging drivers licence numbers with the Road Safety Authority, and it wasn’t anyone else’s job.  So that’s how government works in Ireland.

Now a sad story about a feckless leader’s failure to deploy his assets in the interests of his party.

George Lee was the economics editor for Ireland’s state broadcaster, RTÉ.  In that role, Mr Lee was the dour harbinger of doom, the counterpart to the happy-clappy nonsense of the Fianna Fáil government, which was at the time pretending the economy was hunky-dory and brilliant, and that building houses and apartment blocks could continue indefinitely with 120% mortgages for all.  In short, people didn’t like what he had to say, but as things went tits up, they began to realise that his narrative was at least more believable than the Government’s.

Then, as a vacancy in the Irish Parliament called for a by-election, the main opposition party Fine Gael (EPP-ED, thinks it’s centre-right)  selected George Lee to be their candidate.  Lee swept to victory in South Dublin, and expectation was that, after a decent period of reflection, he would find himself developing and representing Fine Gael’s economic policy.

The one error in the calculation was that Fine Gael already had a shadow finance minister, who’s also the heir presumptive of the party leaderhsip.  Richard Bruton, a veteran within the party was never going to hand over control of economic policy (or at least the optics of it) to some celeb blow-in from off the television.

So Enda Kenny, the party leader, tried to be all things to all people, putting Lee in some sub-shadow cabinet level position, and not allowing him to call the shots.  For Lee, a born prima donna, this was not acceptable, and today, he finally threw his toys out of the pram, resigning from the Dáil and Fine Gael.

The moral of the story?  If you’re going to bring a celeb into the party, you need to have a way to put them to good use, or they will leave you and shit all over your credibility as a leader and a party of government.