Wednesday, 15 June 2011
Dáil Éireann Debate
An Ceann Comhairle: We will take expressions of sympathy on the unfortunate and untimely death of our dear colleague, the late Deputy Brian Lenihan. I understand the Taoiseach proposes to give way to Deputy Martin in order that he might deliver the opening contribution.
Deputy Micheál Martin: Duine éirimiúil ab ea Brian Lenihan agus polaiteoir den chéad scoth. Duine lách, sibhialta, cúirtéiseach a bhí ann. Bhí gach éinne geanúil air agus bhí spéis aige i ngach éinne freisin. Bhí am aige do gach duine. I rith a shaoil ba léir gur thuig sé níos mó ná aon duine eile go bhfuil dualgais orainn uile don tír agus don Stát. D’oibrigh sé go dian dícheallach ar son mhuintir na hÉireann mar pholaiteoir, mar reachtóir agus mar Aire Rialtais.
It is fitting that we are remembering Brian Lenihan in this House which he graced for the past 15 years. Brian’s passing is deeply felt on all sides of Dáil Éireann. Many of us have been numbed by the loss of a brilliant politician, a patriotic Irishman and, to so many of us here, a great friend.
Brian fought a brave and courageous battle with a serious illness during the past 18 months. In all of that time, he never once flinched from his public duties and he showed an unceasing and untiring commitment to tackling the economic crisis facing this country. Even when receiving debilitating treatment, Brian continued to work assiduously in the best interests of this country. For Brian Lenihan, that was always paramount. Brian’s commitment in doing his utmost for the Irish people defines modern patriotism and all that is laudable in our politics. His loss to Irish public life is immense.
Brian Lenihan was a superb lawyer and academic, as well as a politician of rare ability and great talent. He had already accomplished much on Ireland’s behalf and had the potential to achieve so much more. He was a politician with few peers and a man in his prime, which makes his passing all the more distressing. To quote William Butler Yeats:
Of course we could never have been certain that what Brian once light-heartedly described, in an interview with Sean O’Rourke, as his “famous dark indestructible hair” would ever have turned grey. However, we all would have liked to have seen Brian get the chance to age with dignity and to live a much longer life.
As a young man, Brian Lenihan studied law in Trinity College, Dublin, and Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, graduating from both institutions with first class honours. He subsequently worked as a barrister and as a lecturer before devoting himself to politics. He was elected to Dáil Éireann in a by-election for the Dublin West constituency in April 1996, following the death of his father, Brian Lenihan Snr., who in his time had also been a much loved and respected political figure in Irish life. P. J. Lenihan, Brian’s grandfather, also served in this House in the 1960s, having joined Fianna Fáil in the early 1930s. In his youth, P. J. Lenihan had been strongly associated with Michael Collins. In later life, however, he became a close confidant of Seán Lemass. Brian served in this House for many years in the company of his aunt and former Minister, Mary O’Rourke, and his brother, Conor.
Last summer, Brian was extremely honoured to have been asked to speak at the Michael Collins commemoration at Béal na Blath where he touched upon his grandfather’s — and his own — admiration for Collins and Lemass as two of Ireland’s greatest ever leaders. At Béal na Blath, Brian said:
Brian Lenihan was rightly proud of his family’s immense contribution to public service in this country. The highest compliment I can pay Brian is to say that by his own impeccable career he has added further lustre to the proud record of distinction of a truly great political family.
Brian Lenihan was undoubtedly an outstanding public representative of this generation. He had an unrivalled combination of skills and an unstinting work ethic which he generously put at the full disposal of the Irish people. He had a formidable intellect and was a gifted communicator. He was full to the brim with ideas and had a great grasp of policy. He was an intellectual powerhouse, but he wore his learning lightly. He was witty, he was good humoured and he was full of fun. He was engaging, he had charisma and he loved meeting people. He was one of the best-read people I ever met and although he was a first-rate academic, he always retained the common touch.
Brian’s academic prowess was not just confined to the law, brilliant though he was in that sphere. His knowledge of literature and history was also breathtaking. A former party official and friend of Brian’s told me of a recent conversation he had with him on evolving political attitudes to the Presidency in 20th century Ireland. As part of their discussion, Brian referred in detail to a Dáil debate that had taken place in 1947. When Brian was asked how he had come across this interesting but slightly obscure information, he matter of factly informed his stunned friend that he had read every single Dáil debate from the 1940s.
Brian, of course, read those Dáil debates in hard copy. When future scholars come to study the Dáil debates of our time, they will have the benefit of online technologies and search engines. They will need to do no more than insert the words “Brian Lenihan” to find some of the most outstanding Dáil speeches of the second half of the 1990s and the first decade of this century. His contributions to this House were consistently erudite and always impressive.
Just as Brian was a voracious reader of history, especially Irish history, he also had an immense passion for languages. He was a Francophile and had a great command of French, so much so that in his contacts with the French Finance Minister, Ms Christine Lagarde, Brian would regularly discuss technical and complex fiscal matters with her in that language. Many people will have heard Ms Lagarde’s interview at the weekend in which she described Brian as “heroic” and as a politician who was “calm, solid and very analytical when we had major issues”. This weekend, The New York Times praised Brian for his “tenacity”, while Commissioner Ollie Rehn observed “this is a loss which will be shared by many people across the political spectrum in Europe, who have had the honour to know Brian Lenihan as a politician and as a person”. In life and in death, Brian Lenihan is respected at home and abroad as a great statesman. He brought credit and distinction to our country and represented Ireland with superb diplomatic skills in a challenging international environment.
Bhí grá daingean ag Brian don Ghaeilge chomh maith. Mar chúlbhinseoir d’oibrigh sé go crua chun a chuid Gaeilge a fheabhsú. Tá scéal ag Conor Breen faoi chuairt a thug Brian ar shiopa leabhar anseo i mBaile Átha Cliath chun Bíobla Naofa, Sean-Tiomna, as Gaeilge a cheannach. Chaith Brian go leor ama ins na seachtainí ina dhiaidh sin ag léamh an Bhíobla agus ag déanamh aistriúcháin ar an téacs. Is féidir a rá go raibh a mhódhanna foghlama neamhghnách, ach bhí Brian cinnte de gur slí chliste í chun a chuid Gaeilge a fheabhsú agus, ag an am gcéanna, a chreideamh a neartú.
Ar bhás Bhrian, is féidir focail Thomás Uí Chriomhthain a thabhairt chun cuimhne, “Ní bheidh ár leithéidí arís ann”. I gcás Bhrian is féidir a rá, le bród agus le huaigneas, nach mbeidh a leithéid arís ann.
As a ministerial colleague, I was privileged to observe Brian Lenihan at close quarters. He had my complete admiration. He was, quite simply, brilliant and often in a league of his own. He was a solutions based politician with a sharp and incisive mind and an uncanny ability to get things done. He served first as Minister of State with responsibility for children, where it was my pleasure to work closely with him as Minister for Health and Children. Brian was a conscientious and compassionate children’s Minister of State and he brought forward a number of fresh and valuable policies relating to child protection, child care and youth justice. In June 2007, Brian Lenihan was appointed Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform. In this Department he was a reforming and innovative Minister with political and legal mastery of his portfolio. He was particularly focused on putting the rights of victims of crime centre stage.
Brian Lenihan’s time in the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform was relatively short and in May 2008, he was appointed Minister for Finance. He was in this key economic portfolio when the worst financial crisis ever to hit independent Ireland emerged. Brian Lenihan faced events at a scale and a pace of magnitude that no other Irish Minister has ever previously had to contend with. He rose to this unprecedented challenge and he never complained. His performance characterised grace under pressure. He was tested, and tested hard, but he played a stellar role in meeting the fiscal crisis head-on. When Ireland was in the eye of the storm, Brian Lenihan never faltered. Day in and day out he continued to step up to the plate and he did not shirk his responsibilities. He was tenacious and he never gave up. He did his utmost to communicate with clarity the hugely difficult predicament the country found itself in. In a hugely volatile and rapidly evolving political and economic climate, Brian Lenihan was always cool and clear-headed in his decision making. He was willing to take unpopular choices if he believed these were necessary and in the country’s best long-term interests. His unyielding determination to do his duty, in spite of a serious illness, was remarkable and inspirational. It was truly a profile in courage.
History will record that Brian Lenihan did an outstanding job in extraordinarily difficult circumstances. I believe Brian Lenihan will be remembered with affection, gratitude and enduring respect by the Irish people. The poet Stephen Spender wrote:
The greatest loss belongs to Brian’s family, the people who knew him best and loved him most. I wish to extend my deepest sympathies to Brian’s wife, Patricia, his son, Tom, his daughter, Clare, his mum, Mrs. Ann Lenihan, his brothers, Conor, Niall and Paul, his sister, Anita, his aunt, Mary O’Rourke, his extended family and many, many friends.
My own abiding memory of Brian Lenihan is of a politician who was never deflated, who was always optimistic and restless to achieve more. He spent all of his time in politics in vigorous pursuit of the public interest. He packed so much into too short a life, and he did it all with great humanity and wisdom and always with a smile upon his face.
The Taoiseach: Chuir sé isteach go mór orm nuair a chuala mé faoi bhás Bhrian Uí Luineacháin. Ar son mo pháirtí-se agus ar son an Rialtais ba mhaith liom mo chómhbhrón a ghabháil lena pháirtí, Fianna Fáil, agus le ceannaire Fhianna Fáil, Mícheál Ó Máirtín. Déanaim rún comhbhróin dhílis dá mháthair, Áine, dá bhean chéile Pádraigín, dá chlann, Tomás agus Clár, dá dheartháireacha, Pól, Niall agus Conchúr agus dá dheirfiúr, Anita, as ucht bhás Bhrian.
No words of mine can adequately deal with the sense of loss felt by Brian Lenihan’s family. I recall the eloquence of the silence, and indeed the applause, in Porterstown church yesterday, where I attended his funeral. I spoke to Brian Lenihan on a number of occasions in the House, particularly on the last occasion I met him before his last attendance here. He said, “I really shouldn’t be here”. The job he held in the Department of Finance gave him that extra challenge to cope with his debilitating illness and the job of getting on with life. I listened to his open and candid interview when his problem was first diagnosed. The openness and courage with which he explained what his medical problem was and how he intended to cope with it was a revelation.
Brian Lenihan exhibited a great sense of humanity, particularly when he chaired the All-Party Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution and during the five years when he was Minister of State with responsibility for children. When he was appointed Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, he had a real attraction to the work and showed a real inclination to make serious changes in the way our judicial and legal system operates. Events moved on and he was appointed Minister for Finance. The scale of the chasm in front of him became apparent to him very quickly.
He exemplified a love of politics and an association with people. Far from being locked into an individual or political rut, Brian Lenihan would always break off to talk to people from other parties, of other persuasions or with other interests. He demonstrated that ability on a regular basis.
His facing up to a terminal illness as he did and the openness with which he spoke about it to everybody is a lesson for every person. His funeral brought home to everyone elected to this House, and those who might think they are above their station, that at the end of the line the tricolour will fly at half mast for everyone who is in this Chamber.
I like to think Brian Lenihan will be remembered as a politician who made a contribution and constantly strove to bring out the best in politics. We argued and had many reasons to argue differences of political opinion but as a person, as a representative of politics and of the country and in the constitutional Ministries he held, I always regarded Brian as a friend.
The words of Louis McNeice come to mind: “By a high star our course is set.” Brian Lenihan’s course was set by a high star. Fate and time intervened to prevent him from, possibly, achieving higher office in which I know he had an interest.
I offer with Deputy Martin and the Fianna Fáil Party my condolences to Brian Lenihan’s mother, Ann, his wife, Patricia, his children, Tom and Clare, and the broader Lenihan family. I commend them on their contribution to public life and sympathise with them on the loss of a husband, father, political representative and politician. That was epitomised by the numbers who turned up to pay their last respects to somebody for whom they had an affinity, regardless of whether they agreed with his politics. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.
Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Ba mhaith liom mo chomhbhrón a dhéanamh ar son Pháirtí an Lucht Oibre mhuintir agus le clann Brian Lenihan. On behalf of the Labour Party, I offer my sincere condolences to Brian’s family: his wife, Patricia; his children, Tom and Clare; his mother, Mrs. Ann Lenihan; his brothers, Conor, Niall and Paul; his sister, Anita; and his indefatigable aunt, Mary O’Rourke, a former colleague of ours and a very good friend to every woman who has had the honour of being a Member of this House.
I first met Brian during the presidential election campaign of 1990, when he was one of the principal campaigners and strategists for his late father, Brian. That was a hard campaign for the Lenihans. Many different things happened as they do in different campaigns. Politics is not all about the glory days; there are many hard and difficult times in politics for most people. Although in many ways Brian Lenihan, coming as he did from such a distinguished lineage in politics, was, if one likes, a political aristocrat, political battles had to be hard fought and hard won by the Lenihans as they are by everybody in this House.
Yesterday, I was as happy as one could be in such a sad situation that the sun was shining on St. Mochta’s church in Porterstown. When I first represented Dublin West, that constituency was represented not just by the Lenihans, but also by the Lawlors. That particular road and lane and the fields leading down to the Liffey were the subject of many pitched political battles on rezoning and development. For those who had fought to keep some green fields in Dublin West in the context of a population of 92,000, nature collaborated in a way that on the evening of the removal a swallow was high up in the roof of the church. I know there are some myths that sometimes when a person’s soul is passing, one sees something like a bird and it expresses the soul of the person going away to another space and into another realm. It was nice that the service, which was so intimate and personal to Brian, the Lenihan family and to all that he loved and cherished, was attended by so many people not just from the community of Dublin West and his own family and friends, but also by people from throughout Ireland.
The Dublin West issues are in many ways the issues of the development of modern Ireland in the past two or three decades — schools, the hospital, public transport, community development and infrastructure. I am happy to say that although Brian was very competitive in politics — I am certainly a competitive person — we were happy to co-operate as do most Members of this House at a local level on behalf of the interests of their constituents, of the families and the children who make a home and a community in an area such as Dublin West, which grew over 30 years from approximately five small villages into a population of 92,000, which makes it bigger than the cities of Limerick, Waterford or Galway.
Brian was a consummate lawyer and had the lawyer’s great ability to read and master a brief. He was enormously wrapped up in the law, and he loved the law. Many lawyers were present yesterday and the very fine words of Paul Gallagher summed up the respect his fellow lawyers had for him.
He was happiest in ministerial service in the period after he became Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform. It was a personal joy for him to achieve that, particularly as his late father had been Minister for Justice. He was always tremendously conscious of his responsibilities in terms of the Lenihan dynasty and of achieving things that would have made his father proud.
To be made Minister for Finance was a great honour but also brought great responsibility. I differed with him and his predecessor on their approach to the famous tax breaks that fuelled the property bubble, the bank guarantee and NAMA. However, these were political and ideological differences and arguments about matters that were fundamental to the well being of the people. I am happy that despite these clashes, it never ran to personal rancour or bitterness, which was one of the things that made Brian so respected across the political spectrum. There were long nights in this House when Brian was sitting where the Taoiseach is, the Minister, Deputy Richard Bruton, was sitting where Deputy Micheál Martin is now and I was somewhere hereabouts. We three carried the debates on our own with four or five people from the different parties coming in and out at different times. We often took time to talk privately in a quiet corner about the best way forward for the country. In the early months after the introduction of the bank guarantee, I gave him a short paper I had written about approaches to bank failures, bank resolution and so on. For months and even years afterwards when I met him, he still had the details of the eight or nine points on the paper, which he had taken in and analysed. He came back and discussed them with me as the situation evolved.
Above all Brian was a Fianna Fáil man born and bred. He loved Fianna Fáil with all his being as his father had done before. He, like Brian senior, loved the fun and mischievousness that people could get up to at election time and the little tricks that rivals in constituencies often played on one another, including why someone managed to appear at an event and someone else managed not to appear, the little things that make up the bread and butter of political experience. He also loved Ireland and its people — most people in politics, regardless of party, love their country and try to do their best.
He was immensely brave about his illness, and by doing so gave so much hope to other people afflicted by serious illness. He had that great ability of courage and grace under fire, and great fortitude. Many people who have been ill themselves have told me that they found the way he approached and coped with his illness deeply inspiring and comforting. His passing reminds us that there is more to life than just politics. Ultimately it is his family — his children, wife, mother, brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles — who will really miss him and grieve very sorely for him. Politics is a bit like diplomacy — one has interests rather than friends. When times are tough, we go back to our families and core communities, the people with whom we are most at ease. All the people who gave care and attention to Brian during his final illness and the months when his strength began to wane — he acknowledged that privately to many people here in this House — really did him a great service. In many ways it was being a politician and being a Minister which I often felt kept his adrenaline going in the face of the great challenges he faced at a personal level.
Deputy Gerry Adams: Ba mhaith liom mo chomhbhrón a dhéanamh fosta le clann Lenihan. Bhí an-bhrón orm nuair a chuala mé go bhfuair Brian bás agus tá brón orm fós. I express my deepest condolences to Brian Lenihan’s family, his wife Patricia, son Tom, daughter Clare, mother Ann, sister Anita and brothers Conor, Niall and Paul, and his aunt Mary O’Rourke. I extend my sympathy to the Fianna Fáil Party, which was so much a part of Brian’s life and which was enriched by the contribution he and his family made over many years.
Mar a dúirt na cainteoirí eile, bhí Brian Lenihan an-láidir agus an-mhisniúil leis an tinneas a bhí air. Bhí meas agam ar an tslí a rinne sé déileáil leis an chruachás a bhí air le déanaí. Ag an am seo, aithníonn cairde theaghlaigh Lenihan go bhfuil siad ag iarraidh ama dóibh féin. Brian’s courage and fortitude in the face of his illness were an inspiration. We all knew he was seriously ill but he never seemed to let it get him down. He set an example for all of us. In many ways, he was a role model for other citizens suffering from debilitating illness. In his work in this Chamber and public interviews and engagements, there was no sign of the obvious emotional impact his illness must have been having on him and his family. Bhí sé go han-chróga.
Throughout his ordeal, Brian was an articulate and able advocate for the Fianna Fáil Government and its policies. Brian was a talented and gifted politician who worked diligently on behalf of his constituents and party. At the funeral yesterday, four or five people approached me to pay testimony to him and the work he had done in this regard.
Brian was also a considerate person. On the first day of the new Dáil, he was very open. He stayed behind after business and sat here when most other Deputies had left to engage with some of the first-timers, and he did so in a very cordial and welcoming way. I remember meeting him during the recent election campaign. I was chiding him gently — we were talking one-to-one about what was going on — and he said with a smile, “You’ll just have to do what you have to do, and good luck with that.”
Above all, Brian Lenihan was a husband, father, brother and son. To Patricia, Tom and Clare in particular, I extend again, on behalf of Sinn Féin, my sympathy and solidarity. Brian’s death will leave a huge gap in their lives. All his family, particularly Patricia and his children, can take comfort from knowing that, in his relatively short life, he helped many people and was genuinely liked. Sometimes people use a lot of plámás when speaking of others. Irrespective of political differences, Brian was genuinely liked by all sides, by friends and political opponents alike. Perhaps there is no greater legacy than that. Go ndéanfaidh Dia trócaire ar a anam dílis.
Ba mhaith liom mo chomhbhrón a dhéanamh le muintir Lenihan, a bhean chéile Patricia, a pháistí Tom agus Clare, agus the Lenihan family go léir. The huge turnout of Brian Lenihan’s constituents since last Friday was a true testament to the man who served them for so long. Brian was a man of immense talent and had a magnificent ability to deal with any situation, no matter what presented itself at any given hour. He was a man of enormous intellect. Brian had an innate sense of decency and was totally committed to public service, which he always saw as his first duty. He was a true patriot. With his love of country and family and his commitment to his party, he was able to transcend all political views and ideologies. Service to his constituents was his first dedication. He, as a member of the Fianna Fáil Party, was truly honoured to be the first person independent of Fine Gael to be asked to speak at Béal na mBláth. What a job he did on that occasion.
He excelled as a Deputy, Minister of State with responsibility for children, Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform and, latterly, Minister for Finance. During the last Dáil, he was available at all times to meet colleagues, of any party or group, at any time of the day or night.
The tributes paid to Mr. Lenihan, including those by Commissioner Olli Rehn, Christine Lagarde and many other foreign politicians and dignitaries, demonstrate clearly that Brian was an astute politician who understood totally the gravity of the circumstances in which Ireland had found itself, and who wanted at all costs to deal tenaciously and honestly with the financial crisis for the sake of the people of all of Europe, but primarily the people of Éire.
Unyielding determination to continue in the Ministry for Finance during a debilitating illness displayed the true Brian Lenihan, a man of courage and bravery with an interest in his country. Brian was a shining beacon that illuminated the sky and gave inspiration and hope to all of us in this House and to his family, party and community. During many an animated debate that backbenchers and I had with him during the tough 18 months of his illness, Brian never showed any bitterness. On the morning on which he was leaving Baldonnel to go to serious discussions with the IMF and the European Union, which discussions history will judge, he telephoned me because my mother was being laid to rest. He found the time in his schedule, as he did for everyone, to telephone me to apologise for his absence at her burial. This meant an awful lot to me. That was the true style of Brian and that is why he meant so much to so many.
The biggest loss will be to Brian’s family. I thank the parish priest for his lovely ceremony yesterday and all the people who attended. A wonderful eulogy was delivered by Brian’s colleague, the former Attorney General. We can reflect on that and on thoughts of Brian. We will have many a happy discussion about him in the future. Again, I extend my sympathy to his family. Ar dheis Dé go raibh anam dílis Brian Ó Luineacháin.
Minister for Transport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): I join the Taoiseach, party leaders and other Members in extending my condolences to Patricia, Tom, Clare and the rest of the Lenihan family on their sad loss. I extend my condolences to the Fianna Fáil Party, for which a bright light has gone out.
I first got to know Brian when I was a young councillor in about 2003, at which time he was Minister of State responsible for children. He was already the senior politician in the constituency. As an ambitious young councillor looking to make a name for myself, I always made a point of taking Brian on and holding him to account for pretty much everything that went wrong in the constituency in the hope that criticism would give rise to provocation and, perhaps, publicity for myself. More often than not, Brian’s good humour and unflappable nature thwarted my objectives. He always seemed to be able to rise above the cut and thrust of normal politics. When Brian was speaking at constituency functions as a Minister of State, as he always did at that time, he always began by acknowledging the presence of politicians from other political parties, who potentially would have gone unnoticed had he not done so. I promised myself at the time that if I ever had the opportunity to be a Minister, I would make sure to do the exact same. I do so. He was a very good constituency colleague. He was always willing to share information and listen to suggestions, and his first instinct when a problem was presented was to try to solve it rather than rush to the media or the barricades.
Brian Lenihan was the only Fianna Fáil Deputy to hold a seat in the Dublin area in the recent general election. Most politicians believe they have a personal vote but it is only when the tide goes out for one’s party or one decides to go it alone that one finds out who does and does not have a personal vote. In the most recent general election the tide went out for Fianna Fáil as it had never gone out previously but Brian held on, and the genuine personal vote he had stuck with him.
His legacy and achievements are etched into the fabric of the Dublin West constituency, for example, St. Francis Hospice in Blanchardstown for which he secured the land and funding — in a bitter irony Brian became one of its first home care patients; playgrounds across west Dublin and Ireland were built on foot of the national play policy, which was developed while he was Minister; and also school buildings.
When Dublin West faced a very serious school places crisis in 2006 Brian took it upon himself to try to solve that problem. He went into the Department and worked with it to establish a new model of national school, the community national school, of which we now have two in Dublin West, Scoil Choilm and Scoil Grainne. Neither of those schools are called after saints because they are run by the State and are non-denominational. They were given a random Irish language name to give them some identity but the next time we build a community national school in Dublin 15 we might call it Scoil Brían after Brian Lenihan and to remember him in that way.
Brian was extremely intelligent but always grounded. He was patrician but never superior. Sometimes he was wrong but he always tried to do what was right. When others were weak he was strong. When others gave up, he fought on. When others complained that they could give no more, Brian gave everything.
Members will be aware that he was a very learned man and from time to time liked to quote the great Greek philosophers. I will end with a quote from Aristotle: “The beauty of the soul shines out when a man bears with composure one heavy mischance after another, not because he does not feel them, but because he is a man of high and heroic temper”. May he rest in peace.
Deputy Joe Higgins: In the Dublin West by-election of April 1996 the late Brian Lenihan, on the final count, secured 11,754 votes. I happened to be the nearest rival candidate, just 370 votes behind. In the context of that by-election and since we clashed sharply on political issues, and it has to be said that our differences would have grown wide as a chasm, especially on issues relating to the EU-IMF-ECB agreement. This is not the time to rehearse all that.
Cancer is an awful disease. Those of us, and we are very many throughout this country, who have had friends and family claimed by it at untimely ages of their lives know the anguish of Brian Lenihan’s loved ones. To them and to his extended family I wish to extend our condolences and sympathy.
Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: The former Deputy, Jackie Healy-Rae, was most anxious to ensure that we expressed our sympathies on Brian Lenihan’s sad passing. When I first came into this House a few months ago he was extremely kind, warm and welcoming to me and I appreciated that very much. His constituency and Ireland have lost a brilliant, hard-working and dedicated politician. His family have lost a caring and loving son, husband, father and brother.
The Lenihan family are highly thought of the length and breadth of this country. In County Kerry in particular they are highly regarded as his aunt, the former Deputy Mary O’Rourke, spent a great deal of time holidaying in the county. They were very well respected.
I sympathise with Deputy Micheál Martin, the leader of the Fianna Fáil Party, as Brian was an extremely committed party man. I also sympathise with all of his colleagues who worked with him during the different Administrations.
Jackie Healy-Rae asked me to record Brian Lenihan’s kindness, ability to do his job and helpfulness to everybody in this Chamber. When he was riding high in the Government he was also very kind to everyone in all quarters of the House.
Life is very short for all of us but we must try to pack whatever living we can into each day, and Brian Lenihan did that. He did not waste time. He used every minute to the betterment of his constituency, his country and everybody he encountered. May he rest in peace.
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