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Brian the brave


FORMER Finance Minister Brian Lenihan lost his brave 18-month battle with cancer yesterday when he died at home, surrounded by his family.

Just 15 weeks to the day after he became Fianna Fail's only TD elected in Dublin, the 52-year-old succumbed to pancreatic cancer.

He is survived by his wife, Patricia Ryan, who is a circuit court judge, and his children, Tom and Claire.

His son had just finished his first-year college exams, studying Law and Economics in Trinity College Dublin, while his daughter was due to sit the Junior Cert this week.

His immediate family also includes his brothers Conor, who is a former junior minister and TD, Niall and Paul; his sister, Anita; his mother, Ann; and his aunt, Mary O'Rourke, a former long-serving government minister and senator.

In a brief personal statement on behalf of the Lenihan family, Fianna Fail said: "Brian Lenihan died at home in the early hours of this morning."

Mr Lenihan's health had deteriorated in the last few months but he left hospital at the weekend to be cared for close to his family.

Coincidentally, his death was announced early yesterday as the Cabinet was attending a meeting with Northern Ireland counterparts at Farmleigh House in Mr Lenihan's constituency of Dublin West.

Writing in today's Irish Independent, Mr Lenihan's friend, former minister Mary Hanafin, said his cabinet colleagues marvelled at his energy and commitment over the past year.

"He never allowed his illness interfere with his work. I used to fuss about him, saying he should rest or go home, but he shot me down every time, saying he was grand and the doctors felt his work was keeping him going," she said.

President Mary McAleese led tributes yesterday, saying the death of "such a young and talented public servant" was untimely and "an enormous loss to public life in Ireland".

"As Finance Minister, Brian had to confront challenges, the scale and gravity of which were unprecedented in the history of the State. Despite his illness, he faced up to those challenges with extraordinary but characteristic dignity, courage and good humour," she said.

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Mr Lenihan's aunt, Ms O'Rourke, spoke of her deep grief at the loss of her nephew.

"We figured he was on the last lap but that he would get some months on that last lap but it wasn't to be and it was lovely that he died [with his family] at home. I just feel my life has almost ended," she said.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin praised Mr Lenihan's bravery and courage.

"The philosophy of Brian was he wanted to live life to the full -- and he did that," he said.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny broke away from his Farmleigh meeting to pay tribute.

"Throughout his political career, Brian Lenihan displayed huge commitment to public service and carried out his responsibilities with integrity and compassion," he said.

Mr Lenihan's body will lie in repose on Monday morning at Jennings Funeral Home, Main Street, Blanchardstown Village, in Dublin.

The removal will take place on Monday evening to St Mochta's Church, Porterstown, arriving at 6pm. His funeral will be on Tuesday, after 11am Mass, at St David's church graveyard, Kilsallaghan.

A Book of Condolence will be opened at his Constituency Office at Laurel Lodge Shopping Centre in Castleknock, Dublin 15, today from 1pm to 6pm.

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