T. K. Whitaker
|T. K. Whitaker|
|Born||Thomas Kenneth Whitaker
8 December 1916
Rostrevor, County Down
|Died||9 January 2017
|Spouse(s)||Nora Fogarty (1941–94; her death)
Mary Moore (2005-08; her death)
Early life and education
In 1956 Whitaker was appointed Secretary of the Department of Finance at the age of thirty-nine. His appointment took place at a time when Ireland's economy was in deep depression. Economic growth was non-existent, inflation apparently insoluble, unemployment rife, living standards low and emigration at a figure not far below the birth rate. Whitaker believed that free trade, with increased competition and the end of protectionism, would become inevitable and that jobs would have to be created by a shift from agriculture to industry and services. He formed a team of officials within the department which produced a detailed study of the economy, culminating in a plan recommending policies for improvement. The plan was accepted by the government and was transformed into a White Paper which became known as the First Programme for Economic Expansion, and quite unusually this was published with his name attached in November 1958. The programme which became known as the "Grey Book" brought the stimulus of foreign investment into the Irish economy. Before devoting himself to poetry, Thomas Kinsella was Whitaker's private secretary.
In 1977, the then Fianna Fáil Taoiseach Jack Lynch nominated Whitaker as a member of the 14th Seanad Éireann from 1977 to 1981, where he served as an independent (i.e. non-party) senator. In 1981 he was nominated to the 15th Seanad by the Fine Gael Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald, where he served until 1982. FitzGerald also appointed him to chair a Committee of Inquiry into the Irish penal system, and he chaired a Parole Board or Sentence Review Group for several years.
Whitaker also served as Chancellor of the National University of Ireland from 1976 to 1996. He was also President of the Royal Irish Academy and as such, a member of the Board of Governors and Guardians of the National Gallery of Ireland, from 1985 to 1987. He has had a very strong love for the Irish language throughout his career and the collection of Irish poetry, An Duanaire: Poems of the Dispossessed 1600-1900, edited by Seán Ó Tuama and Thomas Kinsella was dedicated to Whitaker. From 1995 to 1996 he chaired the Constitution Review Group, an independent expert group established by the government, which published its report in July 1996.
Awards and recognition
Whitaker received many national and international honours and tributes for his achievements during his lifetime, most notably the conferral of “Irishman of the 20th Century” in 2001 and Greatest Living Irish Person in 2002. In November 2014, the Institute of Banking conferred an Honorary Fellowship on Whitaker and created an annual T.K. Whitaker Scholarship in his name. In April 2015, he was presented with a lifetime achievement award by University College Dublin's Economics Society for his outstanding contribution to Ireland’s Economic Policy.
In November 2016, to mark his centenary year, Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council acknowledged Whitaker’s "outstanding and progressive contribution to Irish public service and to society". The Cathaoirleach of Dún Laoghaire Rathdown, Cormac Devlin presented a special award to Whitaker which was accepted by Ken Whitaker on behalf of his father.
Whitaker married Nora Fogarty in 1941; they had six children; Brian, David, Ken, Gerry, Catherine, and Raymond. After his wife's death in 1994, he remarried, to Mary Moore in 2005. The couple was invited to Áras an Uachtaráin in 2006 for his 90th birthday by the President of Ireland. Mary Moore Whitaker died in 2008. Dr Whitaker turned 100 in December 2016 and died a month later on 9 January 2017, having survived both of his wives.
- Department of Finance; Department of Industry and Commerce (11 November 1958). Programme for economic expansion (PDF). Official publications. Pr. 4796. Dublin: Stationery Office.
- Scholarship Board, photo and short profiles, oreillyfoundation.ie; accessed 11 January 2017.
- on YouTube, TG4, 2006
- McCormack, W. J.; Gillan, Patrick (2001). The Blackwell companion to modern Irish culture. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. p. 606. ISBN 978-0-631-22817-2.
- Ó Muircheartaigh, Fionán; Whitaker, T.K. (1997). Ireland in the coming times: essays to celebrate T.K. Whitaker's 80 years. Dublin: Institute of Public Administration. p. 1. ISBN 978-1-872002-93-4.
- "Kinsella's wife reveals her hurt at the poet's words of love". Independent.ie. Retrieved 10 January 2017.
- "Mr. Thomas K. Whitaker". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 23 October 2015.
- Nic Giolla Phádraig, Bernardine (March 2004). "TK Whitaker". Beo! (in Irish). Retrieved 11 January 2017.
- Constitution Review Group (1996). Report of the Constitution Review Group. Dublin: Stationery Office. ISBN 0-7076-2440-1.
- O'Shea, Cormac (2017-01-10). "President pays tribute to 'inspiring' TK Whitaker who dies aged 100". irishmirror. Retrieved 10 January 2017.
- "Whitaker named Ireland's greatest living person". The Irish Times. Retrieved 2017-01-10.
- "The Institute of Banking honours Dr. T.K. Whitaker". iob.ie. Retrieved 10 January 2017.
- "Taoiseach Launches New TV Documentary Series" (Press release). ESB. 11 June 2003. Archived from the original on 17 August 2003. Retrieved 11 January 2017.
- "Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council acknowledges T.K. Whitaker’s enormous contribution to Ireland". Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council. 15 November 2016. Retrieved 11 January 2017.
- "TK Whitaker obituary". The Irish Times. Retrieved 10 January 2017.
- "President marks 90th birthday of Dr T K Whitaker" (Press release). Áras an Uachtaráin. Archived from the original on 5 June 2011. Retrieved 11 January 2017.
- Stephen Collins (8 December 2016). "Leaders pay tribute to TK Whitaker on 100th birthday". The Irish Times. Retrieved 11 December 2016.
- T.K. Whitaker: Portrait of a Patriot (biography by Anne Chambers), graceomalley.com; accessed 11 January 2017.