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Former Taoisigh pay tribute to Brian Lenihan

Brian Cowen and Bertie Ahern paid tribute to their former party colleague who served as a minister in their governments.

Brian Cowen looks on as Brian Lenihan speaks at a press conference last year.
Brian Cowen looks on as Brian Lenihan speaks at a press conference last year.
Image: Julien Behal/PA Archive/Press Association Images

FORMER TAOISIGH BRIAN Cowen and Bertie Ahern have paid tribute to Brian Lenihan, who died this morning at his home in West Dublin.

The two former Fianna Fáil colleagues released statements this afternoon mourning the loss of the Dublin West TD.

Lenihan served as Minister for Finance in Cowen’s government and the former Taoiseach said:

I was very sorry to hear the sad news this morning of Brian Lenihan’s passing.

I wish to extend my sympathies to his family and friends and especially to his wife Patricia, his son Tom, his daughter Claire, his mother, Mrs Anne Lenihan, his brothers, Paul, Niall and Conor, his sister Anita, and his aunt Mary O’Rourke and other family members.

Brian Lenihan was a good colleague and friend of mine for many years.

I knew him to be a man of ability and intelligence who was totally committed to public service.

We served together in the Dáil, in the Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party and the Government for many years. I worked closely with him especially in the period I was Taoiseach and Brian was Minister for Finance.

He sought to serve the best interests of this country at all time. At the Cabinet table, I saw at first-hand how hard he worked and how committed he was to doing his utmost for Ireland.

He made an immense contribution to dealing with the problems the country has faced and I believe that this will be appreciated all the more in time. His commitment and application to his duties never faltered at any time.

He had political courage but he also had huge personal fortitude as well particularly during the period of his recent illness.

He will be remembered fondly, with great affection and with respect by all who knew him.

His passing is a great loss to our country and also, of course, to the Fianna Fáil Party.

Meanwhile, fellow former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern paid tribute to the man who served as Minister for Children and Minister for Justice during his spell as leader of the country. He said, in a statement:

I am very sorry to learn of the passing of Brian Lenihan TD.

He was a politician of outstanding capabilities and compassion who was colourful and extraordinarily clever.

He did immense work on behalf of the people of this country as a minister and his loss is a huge one for Irish politics.

I worked closely with Brian from his election to the Dáil in 1996.

We came from neighbouring constituencies and I can still remember the commitment shown by Brian’s supporters in Dublin West and my own canvassers in Dublin Central during Brian’s successful by-election in 1996.

Brian Lenihan had worked as a lawyer before he entered politics and he used those skills to the full as a very competent Chairman of the All-Party Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution.

It was my pleasure to appoint Brian as Minister of State for Children and he made a huge impact in that job so much so that I raised his portfolio to the cabinet table.

After the election in 2007, I appointed Brian Lenihan as Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform.  His combination of legal and political skills saw him once again do a great job.

In more recent times, Brian served as Minister for Finance.  He had to contend with huge difficulties but he was equal to the challenge and did a very fine job.

He showed great courage and fortitude in dealing with his illness and he was a man of decency and integrity.

He will be sadly missed.  I wish to extend my sympathies to his wife Patricia and his children Tom and Clare and to his extended family.

May he rest in peace.

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Hugh O'Connell

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