Shock as TV report reveals Irish minister has cancer

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The Independent Online

Economically embattled Ireland has encountered a fresh cause for financial dismay with the revelation that its respected Finance Minister, Brian Lenihan, is to undergo treatment for pancreatic cancer. The news, broken by Irish television station TV3 during the Christmas break, comes as a major blow to Ireland's efforts to cope with a recession deeper than that of most European countries.

Mr Lenihan, 50, introduced last month a budget that featured sweeping cuts but was viewed as a skilful piece of work which could lay the ground for a gradual economic fightback after two terrible years.

The shock of the cancer diagnosis was increased by its being revealed in a TV3 news story which scores of viewers complained was intrusive. The Social Affairs Minister, Mary Hanafin, said: "We are appalled at the manner in which the story was broken. Public people are public people, but people are entitled to be sick in private."

The station said it had held the story for two days to enable Mr Lenihan to inform his family. Mr Lenihan was named politician of the year, and tipped as the next Prime Minister, by several Irish newspapers.

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