French minister Lagarde pays tribute to 'heroic' friend
THEIR relationship in Europe fascinated onlookers and today French finance minister Christine Lagarde described Brian Lenihan as "heroic".
Ms Lagarde - who is favourite to become the new IMF boss - has paid tribute to Mr Lenihan ahead of his funeral tomorrow.
The pair were often seen exchanging friendly chats in French at EU meetings even though they regularly clashed on economic policy.
Ms Lagarde recalled how she and the former finance minister formed a sturdy friendship and said she was "really saddened" by his death.
"We often had little chat in either English or French. I can't think of anyone who did not like Brian," she said.
Ms Lagarde said Mr Lenihan was "heroic" and sometimes over the past 18 months looked fragile and frail. "On many occasions, I wondered how he was holding up as he had lost so much weight. I knew he was going through chemotherapy. Yet he always turned up at meetings," she said on RTE's This Week.
"He was extremely good for the country. I am certain that history will be kind to him," she said.
Ms Lagarde is at the centre of intense speculation about who will take over from disgraced Dominique Strauss-Kahn as head of the International Monetary Fund.