Minister 'feeling well' after cancer treatments


BRIAN LENIHAN said yesterday his treatment for cancer was going well and he has been able to perform his ministerial duties in full over recent months.

Speaking to reporters following his Béal na mBláth address, Mr Lenihan said: “My health condition has not impaired my capacity to do my job. Since last January I’ve attended all Cabinet meetings. I may have missed one or two because I was away on European business, like with any minister.

“You’ll always have arguments in politics, but I’ve certainly been in Dáil Éireann plenty of times to account for my department, and deal with most, if not all, of the questions that have arisen.

“There is an amount of legislation to be piloted through . . . I’ve completed various treatments and I’m feeling well.”

On the issue of the future of Anglo Irish Bank, Mr Lenihan echoed the words of Central Bank governor Patrick Honohan last week and said he hoped its future would be resolved quickly.

Visiting investors in Asia over recent days, Mr Honohan said the uncertainty around Anglo’s future was impacting on international investors, and he hoped the Government would decide on what option it wants to pursue for the future of the bank soon.

Mr Lenihan said he and the governor were of “one mind” on the issue, and wanted it resolved as quickly as possible.

“The quicker these issues are resolved, the better. We’re in discussion with European authorities about it. Whatever solution is found, it must keep the cost to the taxpayers to the absolute minimum possible. Secondly, we must secure the approval of the European authorities.

“As you’ll appreciate, in securing these objectives, there are limits to what I can say. But I can assure you that myself and my officials are not on holidays for August.

“Clearly, it needs to be brought to a conclusion as swiftly as possible, as the governor rightly pointed out this week.”

Mr Lenihan also signalled that the next two budgets would involve further measures to bring expenditure and revenues towards a “sustainable balance”, and that neither the markets nor our EU partners would tolerate any slippage.

This meant the next budgets would continue to require strict control of expenditure. However, the Minister said he would try to ensure that the burden is borne by those who can best afford it.

When questioned on whether families and lower-paid workers would be able for any more “pain” in future budgets, Mr Lenihan said his recent budgets had contributed to a “fairer tax system”. “The budgetary measures have been progressive: those who can afford to pay the most, are paying the most,” he said.

Mr Lenihan said he was conscious of the difficulties facing people – especially struggling mortgage holders – and he looked forward to examining the proposals of a special expert group which he established in a bid to help those in difficulty.