George Lee has reopened controversy about his impartiality as a journalist, predicting in an interview that Brian Cowen will not make it to 2012 as Taoiseach and complaining about the political system.
Fianna Fáil and the Green Party have reacted strongly against the interview in the Dundrum Gazette in which Lee – due back in RTÉ next month after a brief flirtation with elected politics – claimed that politicians made "a lot of noise and not very much progress".
Under the headline, "Cowen may not make it to 2012", Lee predicted the government would last the full term but he was not so sure about the Taoiseach's chances.
He said, "I see the Greens holding on for dear life. I do think the government will last but I'm not sure about the Taoiseach… on the basis of what we have heard about the cabinet reshuffle there certainly appears to be a lot of unrest."
Reacting to Lee's comments a senior Fianna Fáil source claimed, "Prior to leaving RTÉ, he was playing RTÉ management like fools in terms of the innuendo and tone of his packages. He clearly intends to continue playing that game."
Longford Fianna Fáil TD Peter Kelly, who has raised concerns about RTÉ employees standing for election, said, "I have no problem with George Lee making comments, it's just a pity that he didn't embrace politics after getting 27,000 votes."
"He didn't do one thing when he came into the Dáil. He put forward no policies or proposed bills. He was chair of an economic advisory committee that didn't even meet. I just don't know how he can still be taken seriously after his escapade in the Dáil. I wouldn't expect anything else from him."
An RTÉ spokeswoman said Lee's leave of absence finishes at the beginning of May. In response to Lee's assertion that the Greens are "holding on for dear life", a spokesman said: "The Green Party is in government to achieve our policies and we will only continue in government for as long as that is happening."