Friday 24 May 2019

President and Taoiseach lead tributes to public servant TK Whitaker

Tributes have been paid to TK Whitaker
Tributes have been paid to TK Whitaker

President Michael D Higgins has led tributes to renowned public servant TK Whitaker - dubbed the architect of modern Ireland - who has died, aged 100.

The economist's life work stands as the embodiment of the finest qualities and aspirations of the Irish people, said Mr Higgins. "I had the privilege and also the great pleasure to know Dr Whitaker," he said.

"His great energy and intellectual rigour was matched by an irresistible personal charm.

"He was as inspiring as he was impressive, and as fine an Irishman as there has been."

Mr Whitaker is credited with drawing up the blueprint that ended economic protectionism in Ireland and led to greater participation in world trade with the aid of foreign investment.

He was one of the youngest secretaries of Ireland's Finance Department when appointed to the post at the age of 39, and played a prominent role in the country's economic affairs in the 1940s and 1950s.

Mr Whitaker later became governor general of Ireland's Central Bank and a member of the Seanad, the upper house of parliament, and the Council of State.

Mr Higgins said he was equally dedicated to the search for peace.

"Just as his writing on economic development cast the mould for economic policies in Ireland, so did his paper on possible solutions define Government policy on Irish re-unification, by asserting the principle of popular consent," he said.

"The Good Friday Agreement would be unimaginable without TK Whitaker."

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said Mr Whitaker was in every sense a national treasure.

"TK Whitaker changed life, lives and generations in Ireland," he said.

"In the last decades, he more than any other person was responsible for transforming our economy and public life.

"He had a rare vision for our country and its future."

Mr Kenny added: "In modern Irish history, TK Whitaker is both incomparable and irreplaceable."

Dublin's Central Bank governor Philip Lane said Mr Whitaker was a dedicated public servant who was deeply committed to the well-being of the Irish people.

"During his tenure at the Central Bank, Governor Whitaker led the modernisation of the Central Bank and the expansion of its mandate, which enabled it to address challenges such as the first oil shock, the modernisation of the domestic financial sector, increased volatility in the international financial system and significant inflationary pressures," he said.

"He was also a consistent voice in providing independent economic advice to the government throughout this period.

"In the Central Bank, he is also remembered for important initiatives such as increased opportunities for female staff and reformed management structures."

Press Association

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