Lenihan says his cancer has stabilised

Tue, Sep 7, 2010, 01:00

MINISTER FOR Finance Brian Lenihan has said his cancer has stabilised and imposes “no clear or immediate danger” to him.

Mr Lenihan said yesterday he had had intensive chemotherapy and radiotherapy at the end of June and that his condition was stable for the present.

“My energy levels are much better. I am now in a position to get on with the important decisions that have to be taken in this country over the next two months. Of course, when you have a cancer, you are always at risk,” he added.

Mr Lenihan dismissed suggestions he had been approached or held any discussions about becoming leader of Fianna Fáil.

He said there was no vacancy for the job, and also the personal abuse received by Taoiseach Brian Cowen had been extraordinary and unprecedented.

Mr Lenihan disclosed the update on his health situation in an interview with RTÉ’s News at One at Baldonnel airport shortly before leaving for Brussels for a meeting with European competition commissioner Joaquín Almunia on Anglo Irish Bank.

Last January Mr Lenihan revealed he had been diagnosed with a cancerous growth at the entrance to the pancreas, and would need intensive treatment.

Asked yesterday if his condition had improved, he replied: “It has improved somewhat but like all cancers it’s still there. It hasn’t gone away and it’s a danger. But it’s not an immediate or clear or present danger to me.” He said he would not require treatment for the rest of the year.

In response to a question on rumours he had been approached by backbenchers to become party leader, he said: “All of this is highly speculative. I am not a party to any manoeuvre. The Taoiseach and myself have worked very, very closely on the different problems facing the country. He was chosen by the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party as the leader and nobody has suggested to me that that should be changed.”

He said Mr Cowen had given him tremendous support. “I have to say that of all the taoisigh we have had in Ireland, I don’t think we have seen a taoiseach who has had to sustain so much personal abuse in commentary.

“It really is extraordinary. Despite that he is bearing up well, working hard and giving me support right up to 100 per cent.”

Mr Lenihan said he had engaged in no canvass during the summer. He had used his summer break to climb a number of mountains, including the highest in Leinster, Lugnacoille, Co Wicklow, as well as Mount Leinster.

He accepted that people within Fianna Fáil were concerned about the direction of the party and its loss of support. “It is important that we stick to our plan, stick to our guns, hold our nerve,” he said.

Asked about his own ambitions and if illness would rule him out of the leadership, he replied: “There is not a vacancy at present. We are not at the stage where we can start discussing who will or will not be a leader of the party. Everyone in every political party wants to be party leader at some stage. But there is no vacancy at present, that’s the position.”

He said he believed the Government would last until after the Budget, and perhaps until 2012.

ON HIS CANCER

"It hasn’t gone away and it’s a danger. But it’s not an immediate or clear or present danger to me."

ON BRIAN COWEN

"I don’t think we have seen a taoiseach who has had to sustain so much personal abuse in commentary. It really is extraordinary"