Ulster-born economist T K Whitaker ‘was architect of modern Ireland’

Rostrevor-born T K Whitaker has died aged 100
Rostrevor-born T K Whitaker has died aged 100

Irish President Michael D Higgins has led tributes to renowned public servant T K 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. 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 – who was born in Rostrevor, Co Down on December 8, 1916 – 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 reunification, by asserting the principle of popular consent,” he said.

“The Good Friday Agreement would be unimaginable without T K Whitaker.”

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

“In modern Irish history, T K Whitaker is both incomparable and irreplaceable.”