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Surgeon treating Lenihan operated on minister's dad

The surgeon who heads up an expert team of cancer specialists to treat Minister for Finance, Brian Lenihan was also involved in a liver transplant for the minister's father.

Former Meath footballer and consultant surgeon at Dublin's Mater hospital, Gerry McEntee, will take responsibility for the team looking after the health of Mr Lenihan.

The finance minister was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer over Christmas, shortly after delivering his Budget.

And the top surgeon Mr McEntee was on the team who looked after Brian Lenihan Senior in the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, USA.

In 1989, the former Tanaiste had a liver transplant in the specialised clinic in America.

His last period as minister for foreign affairs was overshadowed by his serious ill-health which was due to a long-standing liver problem present since childhood, but this operation increased his life by six years before his passing in 1995.

Mr McEntee is also a neighbour and constituent of the current finance minister and has even managed local GAA side, St Brigid's in Blanchardstown, which recently went on to win a Dublin senior championship.

He is also the brother of Fine Gael TD Shane McEntee.

Mr Lenihan began chemo-therapy in recent weeks and friends said that he was "exceptionally positive".

While he said that he would not be giving regular updates about his illness, the minister confirmed that he had begun treatment. "I have already been through the first session of this treatment and it has gone well," he said. "I really just want to work and live as normally as possible."

Mr Lenihan spoke openly about his diagnosis earlier on this month and confirmed that he would remain in place as head of the Department of Finance.

His department has been inundated with messages of support.

"There have certainly been lots of messages sent in, which we send on directly to the minister's private office," a spokesman said.

"Between cards and website messages, the messages of support is well in the hundreds."