Smiling Michael Noonan given the delicate treatment

The Opposition was subdued on the medical card fiasco after news of the Minister for Finance’s cancer

 Minister for Finance Michael Noonan addressing the media at Government Buildings yesterday. Photograph: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan addressing the media at Government Buildings yesterday. Photograph: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

Thu, Jun 5, 2014, 01:06

What day is it again?

The week after a bank holiday can be confusing at the best of times, but it’s head-wrecking in Leinster House.

You see, the day off on Monday is a lovely treat for mere mortals. But it’s of no benefit at all to TDs, whose normal working week in the Dáil doesn’t begin until a Tuesday afternoon.

So, in order not to be left out of the general holiday spirit, they don’t come back to Kildare Street until Wednesday.

Now, normally, business commences at 9.30 in the morning of a Dáil Wednesday. Except in the case of a bank holiday, when proceedings begin after lunch. Because that’s when matters get under way on Tuesday.

Are you still with us?

Yesterday, it was near teatime before they got around to Leaders’ Questions, without the leader – Enda having jetted off to America’s Silicon Valley for some therapeutic high-fiving to get over recent traumas such as the Shatter resignation, the election unpleasantness, the imminent departure of his Tánaiste and the increasingly likely prospect of regular tête-à-têtes with the combative Joan Burton.

And on top of all that, he also got unsettling news from the Minister for Finance that a lump on his shoulder had been diagnosed as cancerous. That was back in February.

Not a word got out about this as Michael Noonan had “kept the circle tight”.

Nonchalant tone

He has since had treatment and the sarcoma was removed last week. Thankfully, the prognosis is good. At least that was one worry Enda didn’t have to take with him on his trade mission to California.

Mr Noonan, meanwhile, took to the courtyard of Government Buildings yesterday morning to deliver a short bulletin on the state of his health. He’s more used to delivering updates on the state of the ailing nation’s economic health, but he outlined his personal situation with his trademark nonchalant tone.

“Ah, yah know, it’s another thing that happens one . . .”

There was quite a bit of detail about coming across the lump when having a shower – as is often the way – and thinking as people often do – “Jesus, there’s a lump there, yah know, I better get it checked.”

The Minister was discharged from hospital on Sunday. There’s a wound on his shoulder; he’s off the heavy painkillers and on the paracetamol.

It isn’t often the media pack has a Minister for Finance before the microphones. But given the subject matter, there was an unfamiliar delicacy about the way the questions were handled.

His ability to perform in Cabinet at full strength was broached, particularly in the light of the forthcoming reshuffle. Given the upbeat prognosis and his doctors’ view that there is a low risk the cancer might return, he said he was going to continue as normal.

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