In a moving conversation concerning the late politician's mood in his final days before he took his own life, the former Meath footballer and surgeon Gerry McEntee has spoken about how his brother Shane was struggling to cope with a mounting work load.
Speaking to Damien O'Reilly on RTE's Countrywide Gerry McEntee said he found it difficult to think about the inner turmoil his brother Shane, a minister for state at the Department of Agriculture and Food, was battling.
"I rang him on the Wednesday – he died on the Friday- and it was his birthday. He didn't answer his mobile, which I thought was strange. I rang the home number and he came to the phone.
"He was quiet, that's all I will say, and it's funny because when I hung up Yvonne (my wife) says to me 'how was he?' and I said 'he's quiet' and we both commented it was strange that he hadn't gone out because they were social animals, the two of them. But Kathleen said they were having a quiet evening at home."
Two days after their last conversation, Dr McEntee recalled the fateful call: "I can remember it on the Friday morning. Dr Martin White rang and he asked me where I was and I told him and I knew there was something wrong. And he asked me if I was on my own and when I heard the way that he died I would never have expected it," he said, becoming audibly upset.
"I think for the previous 10 days the people who interacted with him felt he was under pressure. I don't know if it was work. They felt he was agitated."
When asked about the comments he made against online bullies at the funeral, Dr McEntee said he stood over his original feelings: "That was the case. Politicians know that debate and criticism goes with part of the territory. I don't mind him going on a debate on the local radio with people who criticise him and he has the opportunity to reply. But I do have a major problem with people downright abusing him on the social networks and no names attached and they can say whatever they like because there's no face and no name.
"Politicians are no different to you and I – they want to do their day's work and they are entitled to do it – no one merits faceless abuse from cowards."
Dr McEntee, who described himself as being "thick as thieves" with Shane growing up, said it distressed him to think about his brother's final state of mind.
"His mind must have been in a terrible state and I feel sad about that."