Brian Lenihan, former Ireland finance minister, dies at 52

Ireland’s former finance minister Brian Lenihan has died.

The Dublin TD, who turned 52 last month, had been battling with pancreatic cancer for more than a year as he attempted to steer the Irish economy through its deepest recession.

He was first elected to the Dail parliament in April 1996 in a by-election caused by the death of his father, Brian.

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Mr Lenihan left Government in February when his Fianna Fail party lost the general election.

Mr Lenihan’s aunt Mary O’Rourke, a former TD and Senator, praised her nephew’s work in government.

“He always worked for his country and he worked for the best of Ireland and I suppose in the end what anybody in public life would wish to do, and that’s what he did,” she told RTE Radio.

Mr Lenihan died at home with his family at his side.

In a brief statement on behalf of the Lenihan family, the Fianna Fail party said Mr Lenihan died in the early hours of the morning.

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His health had deteriorated in the last few months but he left hospital to be cared for close to his family.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said: “Brian has fought a brave and courageous battle with a serious illness over the past 18 months. In all of this time, Brian never once flinched from his public duties and he showed an unceasing and untiring commitment to tackling the economic crisis facing this country. Even when receiving debilitating treatment, Brian continued to work assiduously in the best interests of this country. For Brian Lenihan, that was always paramount.”

Mr Martin said his loss to Irish public life is immense. “He was engaging, he had charisma and he loved meeting people,” he said. “As a ministerial colleague, I observed him at close quarters. He had my complete admiration.

“He was, quite simply, brilliant and often in a league of his own. He was a solutions-based politician, with a sharp and incisive mind, and an uncanny ability to get things done.”

Mr Martin added: “When Ireland was in the eye of the storm, Brian Lenihan never faltered. Day-in, day-out he continued to step up to the plate and he did not shirk his responsibilities.”