| 9.7°C Dublin

Bank burden killed Brian Lenihan, says O'Rourke

THE incredible stress of the night of the bank guarantee may have caused former Finance Minister Brian Lenihan's fatal cancer, his aunt Mary O'Rourke believes.

"I believe that night of huge burdens on Brian and all the many stresses of the time which followed took a massive toll on his health and may even have sown the seeds of his pancreatic cancer," she said.

This was the historic night in September 2008 when bank executives came to Brian Lenihan as Finance Minister in Government buildings to beg for help to stop them going bust.

It ended with a State bank guarantee.

"I do not think I am being fanciful when I say this because there is a clear link between physical illness and emotional stress," she insists.


"The burden placed on him that night was enormous and in some important senses he was alone in taking the decisions he had to take."

Mary says her nephew had a "wonderful adviser" in economist Alan Ahearne and a "worthy comrade" in Taoiseach Brian Cowen.

"But the enormous scale and the import of the choices he was confronted with, along with the very poor, patchy and inconsistent advice from the Department of Finance advisers -- all of this added up to a huge cauldron of worry and concern for Brian," she writes in her autobiography, Just Mary -- A Memoir, launched last night.

"In the end, a decision had to be taken by him on whom the crown had been laid, which now had become a crown of thorns."

She also says the roots of the current financial crisis go back to the flawed budgetary policy in the early years of the boom and blames Charlie McCreevy and Mary Harney for an obsession with low taxes and stoking the economy.

"Despite never joinig the PDs, Charlie McCreevy remained a neo-liberal at heart. During the time they worked in Cabinet together, he and Mary Harney were essentially the nexus of much that happened there. It was in essence they who decided budgetary policy. They would only allow the Taoiseach in at the end of such deliberations."