Saturday 10 December 2016

Gene Kerrigan: Bravery alone could never have saved us from ruin

It's conveniently forgotten that all he did had the approval of the media, the opposition and the experts, writes Gene Kerrigan

Published 12/06/2011 | 05:00

He expected Fianna Fail would lose the 2007 General Election. He was surprised when the electorate gave Bertie Ahern another five years, despite the decade in office, and the weird stories about bundles of cash. That victory put Brian Lenihan Jnr on the road to that painful moment last November, when he stood at Brussels Airport in defeat and dejection.

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He was there as Minister for Finance, to sign the country over to the IMF/ECB. He recalled later being all alone, staring at the melting snow, his thoughts full of the historical reality of the moment. Steeped in the history of the ministerial careers of Collins and Dev, of Lemass and Haughey and of his own father, he was thinking: "This is terrible, no Irish minister has ever had to do this before."

No fictional account of a troubled politician would have dared, in such dramatic circumstances, to invent the added twist of the devastating diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. That such a relatively young Minister for Finance should be stricken with such an illness, at such a pivotal time, added a shocking layer of personal tragedy to a national disaster.

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