I indicated yesterday that we would pay a brief tribute to the late Brian Lenihan today. I suggest that each party or group leader be given a maximum of five minutes in which to speak.
I was deeply saddened to learn last Friday that Deputy Brian Lenihan had died. He was a man of great intellect and integrity. He was totally committed to public service. He bore his illness with courage and fortitude. Those of us who heard him speak of his challenge on various occasions were struck by his tenacity and continuing to fulfil his public duties while holding the most difficult ministerial portfolio at the most difficult time in the country's economic history. The widespread and heartfelt tributes that have been paid to Brian in recent days demonstrate the high regard in which he was held across the political system, the country at large and overseas. Although he was a first-rate academic and brimming with ideas, he always made time to listen to the ideas of others. He was full of charisma, witty and engaging. Even at the darkest hours, he was always good-humoured.
As Minister of State with responsibility for children, Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform and, ultimately, Minister for Finance, Brian regularly made time to address and debate with the Seanad. On such occasions, he demonstrated his great grasp of policy and shared his ideas and vision on each brief he held. He was always respectful of the ideas and vision expressed by Members of this House. Brian's passing is all the more upsetting because of his young age. The untimely death of such a young, talented and committed public servant is very distressing for all of us who worked with him. Of course, at this time we must remember those closest to him. I extend my condolences to his wife, Patricia, his children, Tom and Clare, and all his family and friends. I also express my sincere sympathies to Brian's aunt, Mary O'Rourke, who is a former Leader of this House. I know she is deeply saddened by his untimely death. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.