Lenihan says he's in 'robust good health'
FINANCE Minister Brian Lenihan declared last night that he is in "robust good health" despite his ongoing battle with cancer.
In a rare public comment on the subject, Mr Lenihan (51) spoke positively about progress in his treatment for pancreatic cancer. "I remain in good robust health, in a position to do the job I have to do," he said.
Since his diagnosis last January, Mr Lenihan has had to grapple with the multi-billion euro recapitalisation of the banks, the establishment of the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA), and the setting up of the banking inquiry.
Mr Lenihan said yesterday that he had got great support from people "across all party boundaries", whom he had met on the street and at functions.
"I'm really grateful for the goodwill Irish people have shown to me in the last few months. We are a very generous people, we have a very warm heart and that is something that has been a huge support to me," he said.
Mr Lenihan has always maintained that his treatment had not interfered with his work.
He said yesterday on Today FM's 'Sunday Supplement' show that he would have quit if this had not been the case.
"I indicated early in January that it was my intention to continue working, that my doctors had made it clear to me that I was in a position to do so, and that if there were any change in that, I would immediately advise the Taoiseach and offer my resignation," he said.
Mr Lenihan said he still had some tests to do and was "looking forward to doing them and hearing the results of them". He would be taking short breaks at home this summer instead of going abroad for his holidays.
"If there is any medical problem, I don't want to advise doctors in some remote Mediterranean country about exactly what's wrong with me," he added.
Mr Lenihan ruled out a leadership challenge but criticised the decrease in the power of the Department of Finance in the run-up to the economic crisis, and implicitly criticised Brian Cowen's Department of the Taoiseach for taking too much of a commanding role.
But in a clear show of loyalty, Mr Lenihan said he was not going to talk about his leadership ambitions and stressed that Mr Cowen had the support of the parliamentary party.
"We intend to be led by Taoiseach Brian Cowen into the next election," he said.
He did not predict yesterday that Fianna Fail could win the next general election but tried to put the focus back on Fine Gael and Labour in particular.
"I think the issue is the credibility of the opposition parties in advancing policies that will address the challenges that we face," he said.