Friday 2 December 2016

Public pays its respects to a 'truly decent man'

Sam Smyth

Published 14/06/2011 | 05:00

THE three attractive young women waiting to sign the book of condolence at Government Buildings yesterday could have been queueing in the sunshine for admission to Electric Picnic.

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All three are studying for masters in law degrees at Trinity College and just after lunch walked up to pay their respects to the late Brian Lenihan.

None of them had any connection to Fianna Fail but each had been deeply impressed by how the former finance minister had set an example for his peers in public life.

Kate O'Byrne (22), from Enniscorthy, Co Wicklow, said she hadn't voted for Fianna Fail in the last election. She added: "He stood by everything he did; he was admirable."

Sarah Byrne (25), from Rathnew, Co Wicklow, said she had no party loyalties but admired his great mind. "I know he was a senior counsel and must have known his law but it was more how he would explain everything so clearly that I admired," she said. Sinead Poole (25), from Rosenallis, Co Laois, who also explained she had no Fianna Fail connections, said he was "a very handsome man".

"But I really admired his power of reasoning," she said.

The line outside Government Buildings to sign a book of condolence moved steadily all day, some of them Fianna Fail supporters, others who simply admired Mr Lenihan, the man.

Laurence Conway, from Rathfarnham, Dublin, had met Mr Lenihan three times but said he didn't know him well.

"He was a lion among donkeys," he said. "Someone you felt could go and get something done -- but there was no one behind him."

Brian Noone, a Kildare man living in Drimnagh, Dublin, knew Mr Lenihan through Fianna Fail.

"I admire the man, admired his honesty, " he said. "He may never have always got it right -- but he gave his all, all the time."

Betty Jay, from Donnybrook, Dublin, didn't know him but believed him to be "a truly decent man".

"I think if I had met him on the street, I'd have shaken his hand straight away," she said.

Distraught

Mr Lenihan's aunt Mary O'Rourke and her son Aengus greeted hundreds of sympathisers signing books of condolence in Athlone.

Mr O'Rourke, a local councillor, said that his mother was "distraught" at the death.

He added: "But without a doubt our main thoughts are with Brian's wife Patricia and his two children, Tom and Claire. They have gone through a difficult time and are currently going through a traumatic experience.

"Hopefully, their privacy and dignity can be respected."

The books of condolence will remain open at Athlone Town Civic Centre until the end of this week. In Mullingar, a book of condolence was opened at the office of Fianna Fail TD Robert Troy.

Irish Independent

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