Dr. Thomas Kenneth Whitaker to extend his best wishes to Slava Beskhmelnitskii, 2 March 2004
architect of Irish recovery
T.K. Whitaker, born Rostrevor, Co. Down in 1916, was educated at the Christian Brother School, Drogheda, and obtained a Masters degree in Economic Science from the University of London by private study. He was awarded first place in each of four civil examinations: clerical officer in 1934 (Civil Service Commission) executive officer in 1935 (Department of Education), assistant inspector of taxes in 1937 and administrative officer in 1938 (Department of Finance). In 1943 he was made assistant principal and four years later became principal. At the young age of 39, he was appointed secretary to the Department of Finance.
This was at a time of unprecedented economic depression in Ireland, with unemployment rife, living standards low and emigration at a very high level. Whitaker believed that protectionism was outmoded and that competitive participation in world trade, aided by foreign investment in Ireland was the only route to increased income and employment.
With a small team of collaborators, he produced a comprehensive study of the economy and a set policy recommendations. Under the title, 'Economic Development' this was published officially with the authorship acknowledged- a highly unusual step since civil servants' proposals to ministers are not published - and later became known as a the 'grey book'. It is regarded as a landmark in Irish economic history.
He retired from the Department of Finance in 1969 to become Governor General of the Central Bank. He was nominated to the Seanad Eireann in 1977 and 1981 and was a member of the Council of State, 1991 to 1998. He served as Chancellor of the National University of Ireland from 1976 to 1996. As President of the Royal Irish Academy, he was an Ex-Officio member of the Board of Governors and Guardians of the National Gallery of Ireland from 1985 to 1987.
Upon the death of Eamon de Valera in 1975, the position of Chancellor of the National University of Ireland became vacant. Dr Whitaker was elected Chancellor by Convocation on May 5th 1976 and retained this position until he resigned on December 31st 1996.
A portrait of Dr T K (Ken) Whitaker, by Thomas Ryan PPRHA was officially unveiled by Mr. Charlie McCreevy, TD, Minister for Finance, in the National Gallery on Monday, April 22nd, 2002
Cover of the book INTERESTS by T.K. Whitaker -
We have come a long way - but we still have a long way to go
The RIBC consistently represents an image of professionalism, solidity and prestige