Minister again sets an example
PUBLIC reaction to the news of Brian Lenihan's illness -- a mixture of dismay, affection and apprehension -- has summed up perfectly the way in which the Finance Minister is regarded by people of all political views and none.
When he took up his present job in May 2007, he was seen as a brilliant lawyer and successful Justice Minister but a novice in financial matters. In his early months in office, he made several questionable decisions. But gradually his confidence visibly increased, and with it the respect of the public.
His personality was essential to the process. Not for him the tribal warcries still heard, though increasingly faintly, from Fianna Fail. He is stylish, courteous and good-humoured. These qualities have helped him to the remarkable position in which people tolerate painful but necessary measures when they come from him. Moreover, he has done a most remarkable job in maintaining our credit -- in every sense -- abroad, supremely in relations with the European Commission and European Central Bank. All in all, he has steered a course whose steadiness could not have been predicted at the beginning of the crisis. He is without doubt the key member of the Cabinet.