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Late, great TK Whitaker changed attitudes to the North


TK Whitaker with Taoiseach Enda Kenny in 2011 Photo: Maxwells

TK Whitaker with Taoiseach Enda Kenny in 2011 Photo: Maxwells

TK Whitaker with Taoiseach Enda Kenny in 2011 Photo: Maxwells

We often hear it said that things are not what they used to be. This is certainly so in the case of the late TK (Ken) Whitaker. Plucked from way down the line by then-finance minister Gerard Sweetman, Mr Whitaker went on to become a colossus in Irish public life.

He bluntly told the likes of Seán Lemass and Éamon de Valera that the State would die unless some new approaches were made and, to be fair, they let him have his way - some say it suited them to let him front the move towards modernity.

He was also instrumental in arranging meetings between taoisigh Lemass and Jack Lynch with Northern Ireland prime minister Terence O'Neill, and indeed was great help to Mr Lynch later when more strident voices were screaming through the keyholes.

It is said he was the author of Mr Lynch's Tralee speech, which spoke of consent in regard to relations with the North, a principle now espoused by all.

Of him, it can truly be said "ní bheidh a leithéid ann arís".

But the question must be asked, could the likes of Ken arise today?

Brendan Cafferty

Ballina, Co Mayo

In defence of Dev's policies

It ill behoves David McWilliams, in what is otherwise a reasonably argued article, to sneer at Éamon de Valera and the generations of the early years of Ireland's independence (Irish Independent, January 14).

Mr McWilliams writes of TK Whitaker: "He had the courage and the intelligence to see through the Irish conventional wisdom of the 1950s and realise that our future was an open, trading future, rather than the neurotic isolationism of Mr de Valera and his ilk."

Mr de Valera's policies were grounded in the political and economic facts pertaining to Ireland at the time.

Ireland was poorly developed economically and mainly dependent on agriculture; it was essential to establish and develop Irish industry and an economic infrastructure in what were difficult external trading circumstances following the destruction caused by wars and Ireland's near total economic dependence on the UK.

We will again need a strong and steady hand, like that of Mr de Valera, to guide us through the difficult times ahead following the UK exit from the EU.

For instance, we should be establishing a merchant navy to trade directly with the EU, as the corridor to Europe through the UK may soon be closed off.

Micheal O'Cathail

Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin

Economics, Trump style

Are we about to see four years of incoming US president Donald Trump offering huge tax incentives to US companies to relocate back to the US?

How? By borrowing trillions of dollars. The result? He might just buy himself a second term.

But who's going to pay it back?

Mostly the people who voted for him.

Shakespeare couldn't have written a more tragic tragedy.

Damien Carroll

Kingswood, Dublin 24

The Donald speaks to the people

Ruth Sherlock's article praising the near messianic oratorical skill of outgoing US President Barack Obama (Irish Independent, January 14) was truly irritating.

While criticising Donald Trump for his poor grasp of language, Ms Sherlock herself engages in, to quote Roger Scruton, "a tortured syntax" with the following: "Where Mr Obama's addresses are a skilful, sensitive weave of the complexities of a problem, Mr Trump gravitates to schematic extremes..."

Mr Obama could talk, yes, and talk and talk and talk, while his party was decimated, his country's foreign policy ridiculed and his enemies became emboldened through his chatty political cowardice.

For all his flaws, Mr Trump spoke 'to' the American people. He did not speak 'at' them, as was Mr Obama's condescending and habitual stance.

David Mullins

Arklow, Co Wicklow

Superbug threat to world

I applaud your paper for reporting on superbug resistance and raising awareness about the global scourge of drug resistance, and the threat it poses to humankind (Irish Independent, January 14).

We are witnessing the dawn of an era when antimicrobial resistance might become a conclusion and when common infections such as a sore throat or simple procedures like a tooth extraction could be potentially fatal, increasing mortality and the longevity of infectiousness and hospitalisation with adverse economic and social effects.

We are gradually running out of weaponry and it is important we resort to strategic, rational prescribing of antibiotics.

Dr Munjed Farid Al Qutob

London, UK

North job a poison chalice

In light of the latest Stormont crisis, methinks James Brokenshire has inherited a "broken shire" in Northern Ireland.

Terry Moorhead

Ennis, Co Clare

There is no Libya to deal with

According to recent press reports, the current EU President, Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, has called for an urgent migrant deal with Libya.

AP reports: "He says that the EU should draw up an arrangement with Libya. It would use European money and expand an agreement already in place between Italy and Libya."

Has nobody told the EU that there has been no effective government in Libya since Nato helped to overthrow its Gaddafi-led government in 2011?

The following European countries, led by France and Britain, were directly involved in the bombing of Libya: Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Norway, Sweden (supposedly neutral), Greece, Netherlands and Romania.

Each of these countries bears direct responsibility for the crisis. UN Security Council Resolution 1973 only authorised Nato to enforce a no-fly zone, but the Nato intervention went way beyond this mandate. Now, these same European countries are proposing to bribe a non-existent Libyan government in a futile attempt to stem the flow of refugees.

A similar refugee crisis exists in Syria, where several of these same countries have been attempting to overthrow the Syrian government.

There is now an urgent need for the rule of international law to be restored and enhanced.

Edward Horgan

Castletroy, Co Limerick

Irish Independent