Brian Lenihan RIP.

News is emerging this morning of the death of former FF Finance Minister Brian Lenihan who was known to be suffering from cancer. More later.

Update (2.05pm). While his battle with pancreatic cancer had been public knowlegde for a considerable period of time, the death of the former finance minister still seems quite sudden, perhaps due to his continued visibility on the public stage.

At a political level, Fianna Fáil will rue his passing on multiple levels. It brings an end to the parliamentary presence of the extended Lenihan-O’Rourke dynasty, and, also Fianna Fáil Dáil representation in Dublin, with Kildare South now providing their closest seat to the capital.

Whatever he is remembered for privately, by his family and friends, even at his death, it is impossible not to mention the bank guarantee, the IMF-ECB deal and the economic morass of the last few years. On the BBC, Jim Fitzpatrick states:

His legacy will be forever tied to that decision and its consequences which continue to define Ireland’s current economic plight.

  • Cynic2

    Sad to see this. Handed an awful brief he perhaps handled it as well as anyone could and in the process saved the Republic from utter ruin

  • Alias

    He was awarded the accolade of “worst finance minister in Europe” in an FT survey of economists, and given that we will be paying for his weak-willed compliance with EU demands that Irish taxpayers underwrite the losses of reckless eurosystem lenders for decades to come, his legacy is one of a man who did more harm to the Irish nation in a few short years than England managed in several hundred. But that’s what you get when you allow colonial regimes to put their collective interest before your redundant national interest.

    While utterly incompetent and an unmitigated disater on a economic level (midnight vists to McWilliams aside), on a personal level, he will be much missed.

  • PaulT

    It was an illness he fought for sometime, and to couple that fight with a high level political career speaks volumes to his personal strenghts.

    Was also sad to hear of the passing of Vol. Kelly this week, he had a great way with words….

  • pippakin

    He was not the cause of the financial disaster, most of that happened before his time in Finance. Brian Lenihan had the worst of jobs at the worst of times. I was saddened to hear of his death. RIP

  • Alias’ comment is a poor look out for Slugger. If he has nothing good to say about Brian Lenihan on his passing, he should keep his mouth shut rather than regurgitating facts known to all. His kind of commentary gives a bad name to online commentary.

  • Alias

    On the contrary, Brian Lenihan, the public figure, is not detachable from his public acts.

    Some folks seem to think that Brian Lenihan, nice guy from Westmeath, but was who never elected to public office is the subject of the thread or would have a thread about him.

    His record in public office was an unmitigated disaster, and that’s the reality of it.

  • Mack

    That is sad news.

    That’s more than a little harsh Alias. He was dealing with an absolutely massive crisis. The scale of which was so overwhelming, no matter what policy options were pursued we were in for a f**king awful time.

    He took some brave decisions, hard decisions that will ultimately stand us well, he made some bad ones too but no matter what things could have been (and maybe still could be) much worse.


  • You’re doing a dead man a grave injustice. He inherited a disastrous situation and he did as well as could be expected under the circumstances. There were points of disagreement about his policies but now is NOT the time to bring that up in a bitter personalised way in the manner in which you have.

    Your comment gives the blogosphere a bad name….

  • Alias

    You have to be careful, Mack, not to sanitise the decision of the government to underwrite the losses of reckless eurosystem lenders – thereby transfering hundreds of billions of debt that rightfully belongs to private corporations onto taxypaters – just because you are drawn by custom to sentimalise the recently deceased and thereby conclude that decision wasn’t so bad really because just ‘a nice man who ‘only wanted the best’ authorised it.

    It was absolutely wrong, and it was the worst decision ever made by a finance minister. To inflict hundreds of billions of debt on a nation that properly belongs to privavte corporations based in foreign states was an unparalleled act of treason, and one that will inflicy misery on the nation for decades to come.

    Now, as I pointed out, this thread is about a public figure, and not a private individual. The legacy is important, and when your grandmother is laid out and dying on a hospital trolley she should know that the money the taxpayers might otherwise have paid for a bed has been diverted instead to pay for a Ferrai for the mistress of a bondholder in Germany. That is this man’s legacy as it was he who agreed that said taxpayers money should be given to wealthy bondholders instead…

  • Greenflag

    Well said Concubhar-There’s a time and place for Alias’s ‘regurgitation’ but not on the day the man has passed away .
    As for his record in public office being a disaster that’s a nonsense . The man was a successful Minister for several years before he inherited the ‘poisoned ‘chalice of Finance Minister following Brian Cowen’s elevation to Taoiseach .

    The world wide financial chaos ensuing from the failure of Lehman’s and the bailing out of corrupt American banksters and their cousins in the UK , France , Germany and Ireland and elswhere made Mr Lenihan’s task ‘mission impossible ‘ at least from the vista of the past few years . Even now we don’t really know why as Finance Minister he agreed to ‘bail out ‘ the French and German and Irish banks on the backs of Irish taxpayers . In retro it’s clear that any Irish Finance Minister at the time would have been stuck between two very difficult decisions and in Mr Lenihan’s case it was to trust the advice of Merrill Lynch the Wall St investment banking giant now absorbed into BOA or the IMF/ECB pressure group whose main mission was to prop up overleveraged German and French and British banks among others and protect the Euro .

    Of course none of this has gone away . Even today German Finance Minister Schauble is battling in the Bundestag for a new ‘revised ‘ upward bail out of Greece to prevent that country defaulting . While across the pond the USA has a month or so before it’s government also defaults if no agreement is cobbled together between the opposing forces of ‘print more dollar bills ‘ and those who favour mass starvation and more unemployment for that half of the American population who have no assets bar their next pay cheque.

    Mr Lenihan I’m certain did what he thought was best for the country . Someday we may know a bit more about what facts or threats or whatever prompted his decision and it may be that in the light of what looks like an acceptance sooner or later of ‘default’ and a restructuring and significant haircuts for the international bondholders and reckless banks within the EU that Mr Lenihan’s decision may prove to have been the right one .

  • Tell us something we don’t know, Alias, we all know the mistakes that were made and the consequences of those mistakes. You’re just being the smart alec who’s pointing them up again, as if we didn’t know.
    Your comments on this day are a complete disgrace and show you up as a person of little humanity. Cry crocodile tears if you want about the poor grandmother on a trolley in a hospital but your ad hominem attack on Brian Lenihan is all about you.

  • andnowwhat

    I’m with Alias’ post at 1:09pm

    Other than that and on a personal note, I wish his family well in coping at a very sad time for them

  • JR

    Very sad for his family to loose a son, husband, father at such an early age.

    Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam

  • John Ó Néill

    Original post now updated (a bit).

  • Neville Bagnall

    It is 40 years too early for certainty in regards to the lasting political reputation of Mr. Lenihan. Given that, today is hardly the day for the noisy raking over of well burned cinders. There will be time enough for politics when there is new information or a detailed study to be considered.

    For today I’d just like to record my respect for a man who put duty to country before his own personal health and wellbeing. It was nobly done and stoically borne.

    My thoughts are with his family who must endure this tragically early loss.

  • Alias

    Concubhar, calm down dear. There is a time and a place for comical hysteria, but whatever the time might be, a public forum is never the place…

    “Whatever he is remembered for privately, by his family and friends, even at his death, it is impossible not to mention the bank guarantee, the IMF-ECB deal and the economic morass of the last few years. On the BBC, Jim Fitzpatrick states:

    His legacy will be forever tied to that decision and its consequences which continue to define Ireland’s current economic plight.

    John, are you sure this is the ‘time and the place’ to mention the public acts of public figures? Surely, according to the above hysterics, it is a time only for vacous sycophancy?

  • Having watched my father waste away through pancreatic cancer, I have nothing but admiration for Brian Lenihan and his resilience and the strength of character that he displayed whilst under enormous emotional and physical strain.
    Alias to use the vernacular you should “fuck up” and bide your time.

  • Alias, you’re obviously a gobshite so I excuse the personal attacks on me. There’s a thick line between vacuous sycophancy, which is not in evidence here, and speaking ill of the dead, which you are doing. There’s absolutely nothing original in what you’re saying – so don’t cod yourself that you’re being anything other than a gobshite.

  • Limerick

    Sad to hear that on the radio today. He was a brave man to carry on in office whilst fighting cancer. RIP

  • wee buns

    Even though he had been sick this quite surprises me, because he always looked so hearty.

    However on reflection, how could it be possible that health already compromised, be stabilized while laboring under the apocalypse that is our finances? It must have been terrible stressful. Esp the elections: the unprecedented and perhaps unanticipated, on his part, fall.

    Yet it was his choice to continue until then. I wonder if it was the healthy choice, given the scale of the battle. I wonder how much his his whole sense of himself was compromised by his health. I feel sorry that he couldn’t just rest and recover. So much ideology surrounding cancer is aggressive from the blitz-all treatment to the ‘fight it’ prescribed mindset.

    Gone for his tea. Free from this dastardly world, his ‘debts’ for one, written off. May he sleep in peace.

  • I was very sad to hear about Brian Lenihan passing away. The fact that he continued to hold arguably the most difficult job in the country while trying to abate the sad odds stacked against any poor soul diagnosed with pancreatic cancer stands testament to his strength of character.

    The history books may not look favourably on some of his latter actions as Finance Minister but I’m sure he firmly believed what he was doing was the right thing in the most dismal of circumstances. Rest In Peace Sir.

  • Condolences to Mr Lenihan’s family at this sad event. Only 52years, and how much good he did for his country in that time unlike many of his party colleagues..

  • Forgive me repeating myself:

    De mortuis nil nisi bonum?

    Well, yes — up to a point, and since it’s Miriam Lord on the day-job in Saturday’s Irish Times front page … her opener gets it spot on:

    Minister for finance in the middle of a massive economic crisis. He had cancer. He wanted to do his job. What he didn’t want was sympathy.

    He made one demand of his opponents: “Aggressive intervention!” They were not to hold back.

    They didn’t. The minister made it easy for them to forget.

    She also sniffs the prevalent whiff of sulphur:

    The Lenihans have been with us for as long as we can remember, with their unique brand of political soap opera. Never dull, often controversial, always different.

    Only at the conclusion of this beautifully-written piece does she drop a most-telling anecdote:

    Brian wanted to be leader of Fianna Fáil. But when the opportunity came at the chaotic end of the last government, he botched it.

    During that infamous Galway Fianna Fáil think-in last year, we sat in the hotel lobby and had a long conversation.

    There had been much talk about him mounting a challenge. We could see he was still thinking about making a move, trying to talk himself out of it, but not convincing either of us.

    Finally, he put down his glass of red wine. “For f***’s sake, I’m dying!” he blurted out.