December 26, 2009 / 10:43 PM / 10 years ago

Irish finance minister diagnosed with cancer

Minister for Finance, Brian Lenihan, arrives at government buildings in Dublin, in this December 9, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland’s Finance Minister Brian Lenihan, 50, has been diagnosed with cancer, Irish media reported on Saturday.

Citing a number of sources, the Irish edition of the London-based Sunday Times newspaper said Lenihan received the diagnosis after tests this month, adding that Prime Minister Brian Cowen had asked him to remain in office while receiving treatment.

National broadcaster RTE said that independently of official sources, it had confirmed Lenihan was suffering from a serious condition.

A spokesman for the finance ministry told Reuters: “The minister is well. He is enjoying the Christmas break with his family and he doesn’t intend talking to the media about anything until the new year.”

Lenihan, who delivered three austerity budgets in just over a year to help keep Ireland’s ballooning budget deficit at just under 12 percent of gross domestic product, recently missed a debate on passing a measure of December’s budget. It was reported he had gone to hospital for a routine procedure.

Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Matthew Jones

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