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Kilrush Chamber event – last outing for ex-TD

Economist George Lee, who has resigned his seat and the Fine Gael parliamentary party, and Mark Reidy, Kilrush Chamber president, at the Chamber’s annual dinner dance last Friday. It was George Lee’s last official appearance as a TD.  Photograph by Charlie GlynnEX-TD George Lee, who dramatically resigned from Fine Gael and Dáil Éireann on Monday, gave his last public appearance as a party member at the Kilrush Chamber dinner dance last Friday.
Lee, who gave no clue of his impending decision, did, however, signal his unease at his dual role of being a politician and economist. In pointing to the need for solutions to the current recession, he said that people were always “giving out” in the Dáil.
“I think, fair enough, that is Irish politics. But we really need to change. We need to work on solutions. These are going to be very difficult solutions. Finding the solutions to where we are now is new. It is difficult because we have never been in this situation before,” he stated.  
The economist and former RTÉ correspondent, who had been asked to be guest speaker at the function by Clare TD Pat Breen, remarked on how happy and relaxed everybody, seemed before speaking for 30 minutes on Ireland’s economic crisis. He talked about his difficulty in adjusting to his new role of TD and pointed out that, whether as an economist or a politician, the problems facing the country were the same.
As well as tackling the country’s cost base, creating the perception that Ireland is good for investment was necessary, he said, adding that renewed investment from Europe was needed to revitalise Ireland’s economy.
The price of having to operate within a single currency in Europe had to be offset by investment, he said. “We are paying a huge price for our loyalty to the single currency regime,” he added. 
Being in the Euro zone with access to international money markets had been like a child in a sweet shop. “There was no regulation in terms of liquidity requirements,” the former TD maintained.
Ireland now needs solutions that will be difficult to implement, he said. It is not enough to think positively but more that people need to hope. He pointed out that the cost base needs to be adjusted to make the economy competitive but highlighted the difficulties surrounding Eurozone restrictions, unlike the UK.
“We also cannot change our interest rates as much as them. We have to find a different way of doing it. We are playing by their rules and we are suffering because of those rules compared to the UK,” Mr Lee said.
He also said new semi-state companies based on the successful ones created in the ’40s and ’50s should be created. “We may have to sell off old ones to get new ones. We have to re-invent Ireland for the 21st century in a determined fashion to make the country better.”
There are encouraging signs, he said as Ireland iss no longer considered as bad as Greece or Spain for its international credit rating but it has to again become a safe place for capital and a good place to invest in.
He said that whether as a politician or an economist, there is only one job to be done, which is to put right what had gone wrong.
Before introducing Mr Lee, Kilrush Chamber president, Mark Reidy remarked on dynamic organisation of businesses in West Clare and the vibrancy of the chamber group, which has over 80 members. He said the great success for the chamber in 2009 had been its voucher scheme.
“The Chamber sold almost €75,000 worth of vouchers to businesses and individuals. That is in one year. The beauty of these vouchers is that they are redeemed in the businesses of chamber members within the locality of Kilrush and West Clare.”
He added that the chamber’s revamped website, www.westclare.com, would be launched in March and a new signage scheme would be brought in, in conjunction with Kilrush Town Council.

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