Stress of crisis may have been factor in Lenihan’s death, TD says

‘It would not surprise’ Micheal McGrath if pressure contributed to minister’s illness

A Fianna Fáil TD has suggested the stress of the banking crisis may have contributed to the illness which killed former minister for finance Brian Lenihan.

Mr Lenihan was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in December 2009 and died in June 2011.

Party finance spokesman Michael McGrath said he must have been under “the most extraordinary pressure as a human being’’ in the lead-up to the bank guarantee in September 2008 and afterwards.

“None of us will ever know whether the pressure and the stress he was under contributed to the illness that he eventually succumbed to,’’ he added. “But it would not surprise me if it did.’’

Mr McGrath, a member of the Oireachtas banking inquiry, was speaking in the Dáil on Thursday in a debate on its report.

Far richer

He said it was a great pity Mr Lenihan was not able to assist the committee and it would have been far richer if they had heard from him in the course of their work.

He said the committee’s hearings had enhanced the overall understanding of the banking crisis and brought many pertinent new pieces of information into the public domain.

It had to be acknowledged, he added, they had not told the complete story because they were unable to do so.

"The reality is we were only able to scratch the surface of the story of Anglo Irish Bank, which will cost the State ultimately in the region of €30 billion,'' he added.

Mr McGrath said any inquiry which did not hear testimony from people such as David Drumm and Seán Fitzpatrick was clearly not a complete body of work.

“I think we would all acknowledge that, as members of the inquiry,’’ he added.

He said, however, “significant new information’’ did come into the public domain.

Michael O'Regan

Michael O'Regan

Michael O’Regan is a former parliamentary correspondent of The Irish Times