Sunday 17 December 2017

Lagarde pays tribute to 'heroic' minister

Fionnan Sheahan

FRANCE'S finance minister Christine Lagarde broke away from her campaign to become head of the IMF to pay tribute to "heroic" Brian Lenihan.

Ms Lagarde told how she and the former Finance Minister would chat in English and French at European meetings and said she was "really saddened" by his death.

"I can't think of anyone who did not like Brian," she said. "He was always a very good companion."

The seating arrangements at the European finance ministers meetings put Ireland and France alongside each other, so Ms Lagarde got to know Mr Lenihan well.

"We often had a little chat in either English or French," she said.

Ms Lagarde said Mr Lenihan was "heroic" and sometimes over the past 18 months looked fragile and frail.

"On many occasions, I wondered how he was holding up as he had lost so much weight. I knew he was going through chemotherapy. Yet he always turned up at meetings," she said on RTE's 'This Week'.

Ms Lagarde said his death came as a shock to her.

"He was extremely good for the country. I am certain that history will be kind to him, yes," she said.

The IMF's top post of managing director opened unexpectedly after Frenchman Dominique Strauss-Kahn resigned on May 18 to fight sexual assault charges in New York.

Bank of Israel governor Stanley Fischer announced he was in the race at the weekend.

Despite a whirlwind world tour Ms Lagarde has failed to secure official backing from emerging powers in the race to become managing director of the world's crisis lender.

Irish Independent

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