On the 5.30 pm news on St Stephens Day, TV3 reported that Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan has a serious disease. As an exhibition of crassness, the reported quote of Andrew Hanlon, TV3s Director of News “We held it for two days to enable him to inform his family” takes some beating.

Andrew Hanlon is quoted in the Irish Mail on Sunday as saying “It is an issue of major public interest, primarily because of the fact that he is so widely perceived as being the one man who can get us out of our current economic woes”

This statement is riddled with self-serving self-justification and is wrong and wrong again.

Wrong – Currently, it is an issue for Mr Lenihan and his family only. Except in the case of mental instability or incapacity, it is still a private matter. It becomes a public interest when he finds or it appears obvious that he cannot do his job. Publication at this particular time is an intrusion into Mr Lenihan’s personal privacy.

Wrong – Mr Lenihan is not widely perceived as the ONE MAN who can get us out of our current economic woes. There is a contrary opinion that Mr Lenihan has erred seriously in his stewardship of national finances. The latter is an easy opinion to defend.

Patient confidentiality and respect are still central to medical care. Famous people are no less entitled to confidentiality.