AT 9:30 TODAY, the Twitter flow of condolences for the former Irish minister Brian Lenihan had reached a point where I realised the news was true. Spurious death notices are routine on Twitter and Facebook so I routinely cross-check several trust agents before I believe anything like this kind of news. By 10:15 AM, the constituency office of Deputy Brian Lenihan had updated his Facebook page with the news. I thought the 11AM RTE news would cover the story, but nothing emerged on RTE One until Pat Kenny solemnly announced the death. I know the old media protocols surrounding deaths and I've worked aircraft accident scenes where people have died with next of kin confirmations required to complete the process. In Ireland, there's a well-established protocol involving respect for the dead. And alongside all these protocols runs a fast-moving stream of new media that today showed breaking news to a public who expressed their condolences in thoughtful and sentimental ways. Today will be observed as the death of a long-serving government minister as well as the day when new media clearly usurped old media in a matter of Irish national interest.
Brian Joseph Lenihan (21 May 1959 – 10 June 2011)