Kenny praises ‘national treasure’ TK Whitaker

Launch of book by Anne Chambers on economist credited with modernising Irish economy

TK Whitaker: “a brilliant man, a man who made a singular and peerless contribution to life on the island of Ireland, a national treasure”

TK Whitaker: “a brilliant man, a man who made a singular and peerless contribution to life on the island of Ireland, a national treasure”

 

Enda Kenny emerged from the political wreckage of another bad day at the office yesterday to heap praise on a man who, by common consent and acclaim, is one of the chief architects of modern Ireland while also being older than the State itself.

Last night the Taoiseach launched Dr TK Whitaker – A Portrait of a Patriot, a biography by Anne Chambers of the economist and retired public servant credited, along with former taoiseach Sean Lemass, with modernising the Irish economy and outlook in the 1950s and 1960s.

The Taoiseach called Dr Whitaker “a brilliant man, a man who made a singular and peerless contribution to life on the island of Ireland, a national treasure”.

Referring to his clarity, curiosity, wisdom and imagination, Mr Kenny said he agreed with the author’s description of 97-year-old Dr Whitaker’s “deeply principled morality” which saw him “make and live a commitment to bring equity and order in an unruly world”.

The Taoiseach praised Dr Whitaker as one who was not swayed by the “sometimes hostile trash that fascinates, yes, but more powerfully distracts – distracts from the power and responsibility of the individual, politics and society pause to take stock, to reflect and to see, to own and to learn from mistakes in order that in future to do what is right and good and better”.

Suffocating protectionism

During a life that saw him run the Department of Finance and the Central Bank as well as serve on numerous public bodies, Dr Whitaker had elevated public service to rare and extraordinary levels, “levels that transformed a country and its place in the world”.

Standing stooped but speaking in a strong, clear voice, Dr Whitaker thanked all who had helped him during his life and “on many a long journey” and Mr Kenny for launching the book “and bringing me to life again”.

Ms Chambers said her subject was “no ordinary man” but “a truly remarkable Irish man”.