Brian Lenihan, Finance Minister - the truth

Now that the moratorium on the ‘period of decency’ after the burial of Brian Lenihan has passed, I would like to bring up some issues that I mentioned on the thread that has been ‘pistoned’.

I expressed concerns about the fact that Lenihan had been allowed to continue as minister of finance at a crucial juncture in the existance of the state. He was know to have a cancer with an appaling prognosis (as I pointed out when the news broke), he was allowed to work in a highly stressing job by his medical advisors and by his party.

Lenihan didn’t have any insight, Cowen didn’t care.

Despite what Lenihan might have thought, stress would worsen his prognosis. He was more worried by the fact that he would be bored at home than by the damage he would do to himself and the country.

He was on medication, which would have affected his judgment and in my opinion did.

I doubt that he had a quick massage, a couple of morphine sulphate tablets were more probable.

In the middle of a major crisis of the state - unbelievable.

Read it for yourself

In the US, if the president has constipation, people question their fitness to hold office on health grounds. Here, you can be dying of cancer, drugged up and falling asleep and you are hailed as a saint for heroically struggling on. Why weren’t these questions raised by the press before his death. Again, it is typical of the useless irish media to close the stable door after the horse has bolted.

What a country.

Shoosh now this is catholic Ireland, dont raise your voice or someone might hear you, bow your head and tug your forelock like the good ingrate you are and leave the thinking to your betters man. Dont you know its above your station in life to question the abilities of a dynasty or the judgement of a couple of muck savages to allow a terminally ill man make decisions that will effect millions of people for decades to come. There now away home wit ya. :wink:

Imo this is yet more cover up. In the same way that mitigating circumstances or insanity is pleaded at a criminal trial. Like at a criminal trial what should be focused on is demonstrating intent. Not making excuses for it from the get-go.

Enoch Root went to the trouble of analyzing a column and choosing his quotes to present a rational argument. Tired, juvenile reponses like this add nothing, not even humour if that’s what it’s meant to be.

Didn’t the Soviet union have a couple of presidents on life support in the 1970’s.

You are quite right dolanbaker. Khruschev was ousted in 1964 because of deteriorating health. Brezhnev was plagued by deteriorating health and his last major descision in 1982, before his death was the invasion of Afghanistan - I wonder how that panned out?

Andropov had kidney failure and was under treatment almost continuously for the last years of his life before dying in 1984.

Whatever did become of the Soviet Union :question:

To be honest I believe the decision whether to continue or not was for Brian Lenihan himself to make. Illness can affect everybody and every organization, company, sports team or other grouping needs to be able to offer the capacity and competence to cover for the person who is ill until such time as they recover or decide that it is no longer appropriate to continue.

And that is the real issue. The FF administration was not in position to offer the necessary cover and provide sound decision making while their colleague was being medically treated. This is not surprising – from 1997 onwards the Ahern lead administration demonstrated gross incompetence in it’s ability to offer intelligent leadership for the country culminating in the catastrophic events of recent years.

Brian Lenihan only joined the cabinet in 2007. By the stage the country had already effectively been bankrupted by his colleagues who had been at the helm for the previous ten years. During his illness he was reliant on these colleagues for support and this could only have one logical conclusion – further failure. His well documented late night trips around Dublin seeking advice in the period leading up the crisis are testimony to the despair and hopelessness he must have felt when he tried to discuss and deliberate the impending tsunami within his own governmental apparatus.

No team can be dependent on one player. Everybody will know examples from their own day to day experiences where colleagues who are ill are being covered for. Steve Jobs at Apple is an example. Mo Mowlam was an example during the successful negotiation of the Good Friday Agreement. In these cases there is / was a competent backup organization to support during the period of absence. Brian Lenihan had no such luck. … -jfk/5572/

I agree that when he arrived as minister of finance in 2007, he knew that the good times were over. There was a fiscal deficit that had to be corrected (and still has to be corrected). This was down to the stupid and greedy policies of FF and the public service unions with bench-marking. This problem was managable with tight fiscal policies. The decision to take over the banks liabilities on behalf of the taxpayer, NAMA and all the other lousy decisions which have resulted in the ruination of the country are down to him personally as minister of finance and to Cowen who signed off on it.

The decision to take up the post and to continue as minister of finance was a personal decision of BL in the first instance. He put his personal interests before the interests of the country. This reflects either a criminal thirst for power or a total lack of insight into his medical condition.

It was Cowen’s decision to allow BL to continue in this role despite his knowledge of BL’s terminal illness with a known poor prognosis. I suspect that this was a cynical FF ploy to gain sympathy and ameliorate blame, deflecting it onto a very sick man.

For your information, Steve Jobs left/was removed from the role of chief executive of Apple when he had pancreatic cancer diagnosed. He subsequently returned after his treatment.

Mo Mowlam was given the NI brief in 1997 because of her position and popularity in the Labour party. The Good Friday Agreement was signed in 1998. I suspect that a huge amount of work had been done by civil servants and others for years prior to her arrival on the scene. When it appeared that she may not have been up to the job, possibly because of her health, she was removed in 1999 and replaced by Mandelson. She died from her cancer in 2005.

With respect to BL’s nocturnal touring of Dublin looking for advice, he didn’t read the advice that the government had paid for, he ignored the advice that he was given by independent commentators and decided to shore up his incompetent buddies in regulating, banking and building.

While you might be forgiving about this, your grandchildren won’t.

@ Tyler

US politicians would love to hide their medical conditions and managed to do so in the past. Probably with the assistance of a complient press. “Its none of our business really”, the same sh**e that was spouted here in 2009 when the news broke. Well, as it is transpiring, BL was on medication for pain control, probably on steroids also and was dropping off to sleep at random times and this didn’t affect his judgment?
People in many responsible jobs undergo random drug testing to ensure that their judgement isn’t impaired. You don’t want a pilot flying under the influence of opiates so its ok for a minister of finance to sign off on decisions affecting millions of people?

Kennedy has been dead nearly fifty years.
See an American president trying to get away with it now. If anybody in power in an advanced society was diagnosed with unresectable pancreatic cancer today, they would not be able to continue in office.

I doubt anyone would have denied Brian Lenihan what was essentially a dying wish to continue in a job that he passionately believed he could do. Unfortunately he should never been appointed to the job in the first case. He acted in the interests of the political and social class that he belonged to - believing that he was doing so ‘for the good of the country’. I don’t think that he was malicious or dishonest in this, just well trained - but not for the job of Finance Minister at that time. When you know nothing about a subject that it is critical to the future of the state and are surrounded by a cozy consensus it is your job to seek out a Devils Advocate - Brian Lenihan signally failed to do this.

Unfortunately we have gone down the same road again - a government that had access to the talents of Joan Burton , Ruari Quinn and Peter Matthews chose Michael Noonan and Brian Hayes as its Finance team. Is a well Michael Noonan any more competent than a sick Brian Lenihan?

I had a long piece written about the merits of Brian Lenihan and his terminal cancer . But at the end of the day what does it matter ? There was at least 3 alcoholics at the upper levels of power in Ireland during the boom to bust .

Regan had alzheimers for most of his second term.
Bush was a former alcoholic, and there were strong suspicions that he was back on the bottle. His regular facial injuries were very suspicious. In fact if you want a list of world leaders with alcohol problems, it’s a long list.
the Saudi King is extremely sick, as are most of his back ups.

Dick Cheney, had a very long history of heart problems when he took the office of vice president, he also had very serious health problems while in office.

It’s utterly ridiculous to argue that ireland is somehow unique in allowing people with health problems to continue in office.

Only if he is a Democrat. If he is a Republican, however, they go out of their way not to ask questions about fitness to stay in office. There is still some discussion about Reagan in that respect now, thanks.

Stop assuming that bad things which happen in Ireland, only happen in Ireland. We are not that special, and we certainly aren’t unique. FFS, we need to learn this. We thought we were special when we were rich, and now we think we are special because we are poor. Stop thinking the place is special. It’s not that special.

You are also naively assuming that the Irish media are useless. You are not asking the question who they are being useful to.

I certainly am not forgiving and have no doubt about the price that will have to paid.

However I believe that the incompetence was so institutionalized in the reigning FF administration that it didn’t matter who got the job. Whoever had been put in as Finance Minister would have acted in the same way as Brian Lenihan. The problem wasn’t a personal one, it was a political one. The only thing that could have saved the country would have been a general election but this came three years too late.

  1. Ministers in Ireland are chosen on a geographical basis ( I thought this was just a FF thing, but my own Party have continued this tradition in this Government :imp: )
  2. No-one would have wanted the Ministry for Finance at that time, so it made sense politically to give it to a dying man that would not be around for the next election (what age is Michael Noonan…DOB 21 May 1943…will he be around for the next election? :angry: )
  3. Brian Lenihan would have employed several top advisers, not to mention the Secretary General of the Department of Finance, any decision he would have made would not have been of his own mind IMHO
  4. I STILL believe his and his advisers decisions would have been over-ruled by Cowen especially in relation to the Croke Pork Deal and the Bank guarantee. But we will have to wait another 27 years when the records are released under the 30 year rule
  5. I also believe that the other ministers did not want to let people know the true extent of the problem, as they were trying to delay the inevitable for as long as possible so they could retire in 2012, and then let the incoming Government sort it out (unfortunately the incoming Government seem to be playing for time also)
  6. Few of the Ministers had the stomach for harsh decisions, you only have to think of the medical card removal for retired couples earnings over EUR 70,000 a year, many of FF were opposing its abolition because they were scared of the people after seeing the senior citizens out on the streets. It didn’t matter if it was the right decision, all that mattered to these people in FF was, it wasn’t populist. Would the cabinet have backed Lenihan if he wanted to make even tougher decisions?
  7. Didn’t we have a Minister or a President that was an alcholic in the late 1970s - so Lenihan not exactly a precedent - still neither should not have been in their respective roles!

BL was appointed in 2007, his moste fateful decision - the blanket bank guarantee (the thruth of which we may never know, i.e. was it his sole decision or was he acting on advice) was taken as we all know in 2008.

He was diagnosed with cancer in 2009. So the job wasn’t given to a dying man. That the dying man man was not encouraged to step down was undoubtedly the political interest of FF at the time.

It will come out and in full 3D with surround sound . Ireland is to small for big secrets to kept hidden for long . Problem is nobody will really care .

Mairz, you’re right, I got my dates arseways, was thinking Bertie stayed on longer than he did and hence the reshuffle was later than it was.

There is an important clue here.

David McWilliams: The night Lenihan banged on my front door -> … 30001.html

My reckoning is that he may not have been diagnosed with the cancer at that stage, he was trying to self medicate, as a way of dealing with the symptoms.