Sunday 20 October 2019

Lenihan's son says he cheated because of panic attack

Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

THE son of the late Finance Minister Brian Lenihan has spoken of his battle with depression after being caught cheating during a Trinity College exam.

Tom Lenihan (21), who is the incoming president of Trinity's students' union, admitted bringing a note into a third-year law exam a fortnight ago.

In a statement to the Irish Independent, Mr Lenihan apologised for his "irrational" actions, saying he had suffered a panic attack before the test.

College authorities are to allow him to repeat the exam and it is understood no further disciplinary action is to be taken.

"I have been diagnosed with depression and, unfortunately, I had neglected my medical treatment, which exacerbated my condition," Mr Lenihan said.

"I found myself unable to cope mentally and physically. Getting through the day became a struggle.


"As the exams loomed closer, I became more stressed. On the morning of the exam in question, I had a panic attack and in a random irrational reaction, I took the note into the exam hall. I had suffered several panic attacks throughout the exam period."

However, Mr Lenihan said his condition did not excuse his actions.

The business and law student was elected students' union president last February after running a campaign in which he highlighted student mental health as a key issue.

He has previously said that he has been battling depression since his early teens.

Despite the controversy, he still intends to take up the students' union presidency when his term begins next month, saying he had the "full support and confidence" of his students' union colleagues.

During the exam, an invigilator saw the note in Mr Lenihan's possession. He was later brought before a disciplinary hearing where he admitted to cheating. "I greatly regret my action and I apologise to the students and to the college for my behaviour," he said.

Irish Independent

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