Monday, June 13, 2011
RIP Brian Lenihan
I want to write something briefly about the recent passing of my local TD and former Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan. The 52 year old lost his fight against cancer last Friday. I'm not generally one for eulogizing but I did meet him on several occasions and found him to be an exceptionally likable man. I had one particular encounter with him that I think Gubu World readers will enjoy. Just prior to the US invasion of Iraq in March 2003, a debate was scheduled for Dail Eireann on whether or not the US military should have access to Shannon Airport in order to refule their aircraft on route to the Middle East. I contacted Brian Lenihan's office and asked if I could observe the debate from the Dail gallery. His office arranged for me to meet him in Buswell's hotel on Kildare Street, just outside Dail Eireann. I thought this was a bit strange but it soon became clear why our meeting was arranged outside of parliament buildings. I was being vetted, in case I was the type that would disrupt such a sensitive discussion surrounding Irish neutrality. I think he also may have mixed me up with my eldest brother, an anti capitalist activist who the department of Foreign Affairs had to make inquiries about his safety after the violence at the G8 summit in Genoa in 2001. He was very friendly and chatty either way and once he realised I did not share my brothers views, we walked across the street to Leinster House where upon he led me to the gallery and arranged a meeting place for the two of us afterward. When the debate in parliament was over, Mr Lenihan took me to dinner in the Dail Restaurant where the two of us discussed the debate and many other international issues for over an hour. I was impressed by his knowledge of international affairs and enjoyed his company very much. I was astonished at his graciousness and the generosity of his time. He was a true gentlemen. It was an encounter I will always remember. His time in the Department of finance (2007-10) was exceptionally challenging. He did not always make the right decisions but I admire people who put themselves out there and attempt to grapple with the big ones. Commenting from behind a lap top or from your bar stool is a much safer game than that faced by the actual decision makers. Brian Lenihan never tried to avoid his very difficult responsibilities and for that he should always be admired. He will be missed by his family, friends and colleagues but also by the political anoraks like me. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.