'A good friend,' says Connick
A BOOK of condolence was open in New Ross this week for Fianna Fáil deputy leader and former Finance Minister Brian Lenihan. Mr Lenihan (52) was laid to rest in Dublin yesterday (Tuesday) having lost his battle with pancreatic cancer.
Paying tribute to Mr Lenihan, his close supporter and friend Seán Connick (pictured), who proposed him in his failed bid to lead the party earlier this year, described him as 'possibly the greatest leader Fianna Fáil never had'.
'It was with deep regret and great sadness that I learned of Brian Lenihan's untimely passing on Friday,' said Mr Connick.
'A friend and a colleague, I had the pleasure of working closely with Brian over the last four years, firstly in my capacity as Government Convenor of the Justice Committee when Brian was Minister for Justice, and then when he was appointed Minister for Finance we worked closely on many projects and schemes together,' he said.
'We became great friends and we would have met on regular occasions to discuss policy issues and to discuss the ever-increasing difficulties in the economy,' said Mr Connick. The former FF deputy said 'Brian Lenihan was a good friend to New Ross' and crucial to the delivery of funding for the current development of the new Dunbrody visitor centre. 'The €2.6 million grant would not have been secured without Brian's direct intervention. It took us 18 months of intensive lobbying and numerous meetings to get the grant over the line,' said Mr Connick. 'Changes in national policy were required to deal with one aspect of the grant and the conversion of an outstanding loan to a grant involved the bringing together of three departments and a cabinet decision, which we ultimately achieved, leading to a real value turnaround for the Dunbrody of €6 million.'
Mr Connick also said that the Budget announcement in 2009 of the development of the Kennedy homestead was 'a personal wish of the Minister'.