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Tuesday 20 February 2018

Cowen helped to plan Lenihan's media strategy for cancer battle

Sam Smyth

THE Government wants to draw "a line in the sand" after Brian Lenihan's statements about his medical crisis to allow the Finance Minister get on with his work.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen was fully involved in planning Mr Lenihan's statement and the media strategy that would stop the minister's illness dominating government business.

It was also revealed yesterday that it was decided that no other government minister would be available for comment about Mr Lenihan's health on Monday.

A source close to the Taoiseach said: "Monday was Brian's day and it was decided that no other ministers, including the Taoiseach (would be put in the position of) causing any distraction".

"The Government would like to draw a line in the sand for the moment to allow the Minister for Finance to get on with his work and allow Brian Lenihan deal with his medical issues."

Ministers hope that after his very candid interviews, Mr Lenihan will be allowed to concentrate on his work.

In his statement on Monday, Mr Lenihan made it clear he would not be speaking further about his health problems.

"I will act in the best interests of the country and in accordance with any medial advice received," said Mr Lenihan, who added: "I do not intend to issue any further statements about this matter."

Disclosing details of his illness for the first time, Mr Lenihan said he had asked doctors if the stress of coping with the country's economic crisis was to blame for a cancerous growth in his pancreas.

"Of course I asked the doctors that," he said.

"It's difficult to know because it's one of those cancerous developments which the doctors haven't assigned a very definite cause."


Striking a defiant tone, Mr Lenihan vowed to remain in office and to implement the Government's economic recovery plan while he battles his illness.

The 50-year-old father of two will begin a course of chemotherapy and radiotherapy this week to remove the cancerous tissue, spotted in tests the week before Christmas.

He refused to be drawn on whether the condition could be described as pancreatic cancer, saying only a stent had been inserted to clear a blockage and allow his pancreas to function normally.

"It is a growth and it is a growth I intend to defeat or it will defeat me."

Government sources emphasised that Mr Cowen has been involved in the planning of how the Government would react to the news of Mr Lenihan's cancer diagnosis.

Stories of tension between Mr Lenihan and Mr Cowen before the December Budget had been greatly exaggerated although there were natural strains in any government before a budget.

If anything, Mr Cowen and Mr Lenihan have been drawn closer because of recent events, the source added.

Irish Independent

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