The former Irish finance minister Brian Lenihan has died from pancreatic cancer.

He was only 52 and leaves behind a wife and two children.

Lenihan, an MP for the opposition Fianna Fail party, is closely associated with the bailout agreement that Ireland signed with the International Monetary Fund, the European Union and the European Central Bank, while he was finance minister

BBC analyst Jim Fitzpatrick wrote of Lenihan: “No finance minister in the history of the Irish state had ever experienced an economic crisis of the magnitude that confronted Brian Lenihan in 2008. Because of the collapse in the global property market and the ridiculous amounts the Irish banks had lent, they were effectively bankrupt… Lenihan had to find a way of preventing the Irish economy simply collapsing. He chose to guarantee the deposits of all Irish banks, thereby also underwriting their huge debts.”

Indeed, Lenihan and the Prime Minister he served under, Brian Cowen, were widely criticized in Ireland for burdening taxpayers with an enormous debt that could last for many years.

Fitzpatrick concluded: “[Lenihan’s] legacy will be forever tied to that decision and its consequences which continue to define Ireland's current economic plight.”

Lenihan was also instrumental in the formation of the National Asset Management Agency -- the bad bank established to absorb toxic property loans.

He was first diagnosed with the cancer in late 2009, but continued to work.

Lenihan was part of an Irish political dynasty – his father, brother and aunt had at one time all served in the Dublin government.

Lenihan also served as justice minister and minister for children under prior Fianna Fail administrations.

The current Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny praised Lenihan

He exemplified a great sense of humanity in the public representation he gave,” Kenny said.

I'd like to say I've known Brian Lenihan for many years and regard him as a friend in politics.

The leader of Lenihan’s Fianna Fail party Micheal Martin grieved: Brian has fought a brave and courageous battle with a serious illness over the past 18 months. In all of this time, Brian never once flinched from his public duties and he showed an unceasing and untiring commitment to tackling the economic crisis facing this country.