Lenihan leak condemned

If it’s confirmed that Brian Lenihan has pancreatic cancer, the prognosis is poor. You don’t need to be an oncologist to know that. His illness sadly recalls a similar affliction his ebullient father suffered from for most of his adult life. TV3’s newsbreak seems a piece of over-keen competition but it’s entirely typical of the trade. Alas, the serious illness of a finance minister cannot be “private” for long. Did the station break a self imposed embargo the bigger news outlets privately agreed to observe over the holiday? It’s hard to believe that TV3 had a genuine scoop for any longer than five minutes: this is the kind of story that sweeps over the lobby in a single wave. On personal matters, the political culture in Dublin still seems more respectful than London’s. Nevertheless I expect that the 24 hour news cycle will compel confirmation and that holding story has only 24 hours at most to run – holiday or not – and will break before the markets open. As well as the personal tragedy, it couldn’t have come at a worse time politically.

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London