Brian Lenihan RIP

The sad news is reported here.

While there may be a intense debate about the policy choices he made as Minister of Finance, he showed a high personal commitment to finding the best solution for Ireland and a high degree of personal bravery in fulfilling his duties while also battling his illness.

44 replies on “Brian Lenihan RIP”

Very sad to hear this. My sympathy to the family. Ireland has lost a good man.

A great pity to see such a talent taken so early. It is not as if Ireland is awash with his abilities. Condolences to his family. RIP

It’s tragic. As a constituent of Brian Lenihan, I can attest that he was impressive in his honesty and integrity as well as being a truly lovely man. His personal courage in the face of his illness was extraordinary and his old-fashioned sense of ‘duty’, so rare in public life these days, set an admirable example. Deepest sympathy to his family, friends and colleagues. He will be greatly missed.

A decent and honest politican was Brian Lenihan.

There will no doubt be much discussion of his legacy and the manner and method of his time as MoF, but for me it was the sure and certain knowledge of his honesty and integrity which stood out.

Fianna Fai, Dail Eireann and Irish public life will sorely miss him, we need more of his like, not fewer.

My deepest sympathy to his family. R.I.P.

‘‘I’ve a very vivid memory of going to Brussels on the final Monday to sign the agreement, and being on my own at the airport, and looking at the snow gradually thawing, and thinking to myself, ‘This is terrible, no Irish minister has ever had to do this before’.”

Heart-breaking to think what he was personally battling with his health at the same time. A very sad loss. R.I.P.

Very sad – a man of great courage great intelligence and great integrity – “whom the gods love die young”

I had a long meeting with him in March 2010 and left feeling very sad because it was clear he was dying but also clear that his obsession with his work was keeping his illness at bay. It looks like once he didn’t have the job to think about anymore, he declined rapidly. Very very sad.
And also perhaps, yet another reminder to us all – – so soon after the death of Garret and Declan Costello and especially on this site where we are so used to judging the decisions of policy makers- about the sacrifices people make for public service.

Statement below from Governor Patrick Honohan.

Brian Lenihan was a strong and energetic Minister for Finance who acted patriotically to stabilise the state’s finances in the face of unprecedented pressures. His quick intellect and grasp of constitutional detail made it a pleasure to conduct professional dealings with him. His death is a major loss to public life in Ireland.

As Michael Hennigan so elequently put it.

Very sad indeed.

Sincere condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.

Extremely sad news.

Stuck to his unpopular task through thick and thing.

Will be missed.

Rest in Peace

A great pity and a great loss.

He was a true patriot and, as the FT put it today, a rare example of an intellectual in Irish political life.

What is curious to me is that, despite the fact that he presided over the banking guarantee, NAMA and the bailout, he was still held is such high personal esteem by the electorate.

A sign, perhaps, of a public thirst for politicians of integrity and selfless commitment.

My sympathy for those affected by his death and my prayers for those affected by his legacy.

What made Brian Lenihan so special is that, even now in the twentyfirst century, he was ‘old school’. Old school in that he had a true sense of duty, of selfless service to the common good. In that he was always a gentleman. In that courtesy and dignity defined his dealings with everybody. In that he was a learned scholar, widely read and ever searching for knowledge.
Brian Lenihan held all the virtues of a true Irishman; courage, bravery, intelligence, patience, honour, empathy, dilligence, selflessness, humility. His work ethic was an example to all.
This country lost another shining star this morning. If indeed there is an afterlife, Brian Lenihan and Dr Garret Fitzgerald are surely beginning a great political debate. Two great Irish patriots, who will be remembered as loyal servants of our country.
Sincere sympathy to Brian’s family, in particular to Mary O’Rourke, who has had her fair share of loss.

Truly tragic.

John McHale could not have said it better when he wrote that Brian Lenihan showed almost unbelievable braveness and commitment.

Sincere condolences to family friends and colleagues who hopefully will take some comfort from the fact that they were privileged to have had such a young man of integrity, talent humility and selflessnes in their lives.


One reason to hold off on the legacy assessment is that we don’t yet know what interviews and memoirs Mr Lenihan has given and prepared over the last few months. I doubt that his slot on bailout boys for Dan O’Brien was the only one. As the books trickle out over the next few months, we will have a lot more to debate. There are recent remarks/revelations of Martin Mansergh and Jackie Healy-Rae among others that imply things were much more politically dire and divided in November 2010 than was understood at the time. Let’s see what stories dislodge over the summer.


“I don’t mean to be insensitive…” Well you were, obscenely so.

@ All

It is really hard to believe how he kept his commitment to his job, put up a (successful) fight for re-election and even contested for FF leadership. Most people would just cave in given the tragic position he found himself in.

Back to OMF, time will come for the historic assessement of the man. I for one will contend that he achieved, in extremely difficult circumstances, as well and better than anyone else would have, except those who will unashamedly indulge in hindsight.

His fingerprints are not on the awful policies which have precipitated our mess. The fact that his political opponents (opportunistic in oppposition) are now behaving and arguing exactly as he did when he had the responsibility of power underscores the integrity and professionalism of Brian Lenihan.

Whatever view we might have of the policies of the last Government, Brian Lenihan demonstrated an exemplary commitment to public service in the most grievous of public and private circumstances.

Ar dheis de go raibh a anam

@ OMF suggestion for future posts –

This is such sad news. He was a man of tremendous intelligence, charm and courage. For him to pass away at such a young age is tragic. His bravery in carrying on in government while battling illness marks him out as a true patriot.

He showed remarkable courage, grace and dignity in the face of enormous challanges to the State but it was the courage, grace and dignity that he displayed in facing his own personal trauma that will vindicate his memory in the collective memory of the nation. Sincere sympathy to his family.

Ar Dheis De go raibh a anam Dhilis.

Reading through the above suggest to me that there’s been some removal of posts going on..

@Brian Woods II

‘Back to OMF, time will come for the historic assessement of the man. I for one will contend that he achieved, in extremely difficult circumstances, as well and better than anyone else would have, except those who will unashamedly indulge in hindsight.’

This is vintage Kent Brockman. ‘indulge in hindsight’. I know what you mean. I mean all of us at the time thought he was doing a great job when the crisis hit and now, well, now things are worse were blaming him.

‘His fingerprints are not on the awful policies which have precipitated our mess.’

Oh…right. So minister for finance places him no where near the scene of the crime, right?

‘The fact that his political opponents (opportunistic in oppposition) are now behaving and arguing exactly as he did when he had the responsibility of power underscores the integrity and professionalism of Brian Lenihan.’

The fact that his political opponents are equally flawed in their approach to the economy does not improve his performance. Their stupidity and cravenness doesn’t make the stupidity and cravenness of his policies any less stupid or craven. Nor does the fact that he has died.

Now don’t get me wrong. Brian Lenihan was charming, courteous and quick-witted. He was honest.

He may have been blue-blooded but he was a pure product of the Irish political system and FF machine.

It would be wrong to say that Ireland was unlucky to have him as a finance minister at the time the crisis hit. But this is only because Ireland was already out of luck both in terms of events and in terms of personnel to manage these events. There was no better person available to handle the crisis and that was, indeed, very sad for Ireland.

What is it about the Irish and group-think? Any personal tragedy and somehow we’re supposed to speak no ill of anything he did. Brian Lenihan presided over the most stupid decisions ever taken by any member state of the EU. The fact that he is dead doesn’t change that.

The fact that I point this out is no disrespect to him.

There is a certain vanity in people who didn’t know him stating how great he was. He ignored all the best advice in life. Surely there is no greater indifference than the indifference of the dead to insincere praise.

Postscript to above. Philip Lane has advised me that posts were removed because they made unverifiable claims about the impact of Brian Lenihan’s illness on his decisions. This is a matter for his judgement as owner of the thread. I ought not to have implied he was censoring comment. Apologies. My own views are set out more fully here:

@ Paul MacDonnell


I would assume that Philip views this thread as one of personal tribute to Brian Lenihan rather than for a discussion on policy issues.

We have had some traditions that deserved to be junked but the one of empathy with families that suffer bereavement is not one. I think people can distinguish between policy issues and a human feeling where a father of a young family dies in their home.

Issues akin to arguments about President Roosevelt at Yalta, cannot be judged by you or me.

@ Michael Hennigan of course this is true. One has to distinguish between the question of personal loss and the public man. The fact that he had such a pivotal position means that his role and decisions will be debated. He is an important public figure not so much because his death demands silence about his policies and decisions but because it doesn’t.

He was head and shoulders above all of his peers.

But his peers are all 5th rate.

May he rest in peace.

While I never voted for Fianna Fail, and never will after the mess they made of my country I have nothing but praise for how well Brian Lenihan managed his role as Minister while battling cancer. I may disagree on many of his approaches to the fiscal crisis, but he continued in office despite this vicious illness there’s no way one can belittle that.

Staunch Courage, Rest in Peace Brian.

Brian Lenihan’s passing is very sad. I always had great faith that he made every effort to do the very best for his country. I hope he got more time with his family since the last election. He gave so much of his precious time to the rest of us.

Brian Lenihan was a very brave and noble man committed to trying to do the best by Ireland.

However being real he was of a political establishment that has ruined the Irish economy. And he was party to the bank guarantee and defended that bad decision to the end. At the end of the day, the Irish economy was run to ruin by a bunch of amateurs and he was part of that group.

It is such a tragedy for Brian Lenihan’s young family. I thought that Colm McCarthy hit the perfect note with that article.

He showed amazing personal bravery and determination. I had no acquaintance with him but the warmth in the words of those who did is very moving. Condolences to the family.

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