Leaders pay tribute to TK Whitaker on 100th birthday

Enda Kenny sends best wishes and congratulates retired ‘paragon of public service’

Frances Fitzgerald said TK Whitaker was “a reminder of the many mistakes we have made as a country, but also a liberating realisation that public servants with optimism, integrity and a plan can do great work”.

Frances Fitzgerald said TK Whitaker was “a reminder of the many mistakes we have made as a country, but also a liberating realisation that public servants with optimism, integrity and a plan can do great work”.

 

Political leaders have paid tribute to the man widely acknowledged as the greatest civil servant since Irish independence, TK Whitaker, who celebrates his 100th birthday on Thursday.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he had written to Dr Whitaker to send his best wishes and heartiest congratulations on such a special occasion.

“He has witnessed the evolution of our State and became one the architects of its further development, mapping a path towards prosperity from which successive generations have benefitted.”

The Taoiseach added that just this week he had presented the Civil Service Excellence Awards in Kilmainham, and thought that the phrase Civil Service excellence could have been coined for Dr Whitaker.

“He is the paragon of everything that is good about our public service and the ultimate role model for all who take that career path . . . Dr Whitaker’s wise counsel, inspired leadership and loyal service to this State has assured his place in our history and our affections.”

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald sent a message to Dr Whitaker wishing him a happy birthday and thanking him for his optimism about what Ireland could and should be as a country.

“It infused and fuelled everything you have achieved. The recognition that economic planning could enable societal progress is obvious to us today but it was you who made that optimistic theory a practical reality. You urged us to face outwards, to smile, to welcome and explore.”

Force for good

Ms Fitzgerald said Dr Whitaker’s belief that the economy should not be treated in isolation, but used as a force for good for the benefit of people, opened up new possibilities for the country.

“As a person in public life you are more than an inspiration. You are a reminder of the many mistakes we have made as a country but also a liberating realisation that public servants with optimism, integrity and a plan can do great work.”

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan said Dr Whitaker’s contribution to Irish society was widely known, and the respect with which he is held by politicians of all hues spoke volumes for his legacy as a public servant.

Wishing Dr Whitaker a happy birthday, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said Ireland had been served by many great civil servants, but Dr Whitaker stood out as being the brightest and the best.

“His legacy is truly legendary, and his contribution to the Irish people and to industrial and economic policy is still as relevant today as it was many decades ago when he worked with former taoisigh Seán Lemass and Jack Lynch.

“At that time Ireland was young in its independence and facing many challenges after World War Two. It was well before we signed up to join the EEC. TK Whitaker was a key strategist and implementer behind all of these decisions.”

Challenges

Mr Martin said that even after his retirement from the Civil Service he served the country well by chairing and participating in many areas.

“He can be very proud of his long life of dedicated public service. We can all learn from him today as we face the many challenges that Brexit will bring to the island of Ireland.”

Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin said as we celebrated TK Whitaker’s 100th birthday it is important to look back on the role he had on shaping the direction of the State and our relationships with Northern Ireland and the EU.

“Dr Whitaker has embodied public service in Ireland and is in many ways the father of our economic prosperity and growth. His economic reforms are a model of fearless, far-sighted public service.”