T. K. Whitaker
|Governor of the Central Bank of Ireland|
1 May 1969 - 8 September 1976
|Charles Henry Murray|
20 June 1977 - 3 February 1982
|Constituency||Nominated by the Taoiseach|
Thomas Kenneth Whitaker
8 December 1916
Rostrevor, County Down, Ireland
|Died||9 January 2017 (aged 100)|
Blackrock, Dublin, Ireland
|Resting place||Shanganagh Cemetery, Shankill, Dublin, Ireland|
(m. 1941; d. 1994)
(m. 2005; d. 2008)
|Alma mater||University College Dublin|
Thomas Kenneth Whitaker (8 December 1916 - 9 January 2017) was an Irish economist, politician, diplomat and civil servant who served as the Governor of the Central Bank of Ireland from 1969 to 1976 and a Senator from 1977 to 1982, after being nominated by the Taoiseach. He is credited with a pivotal role in the economic development of Ireland.
Whitaker was born in Rostrevor, County Down, to Roman Catholic parents, on 8 December 1916, and reared in Drogheda, County Louth, in modest circumstances. His mother, Jane O'Connor, came from Ballyguirey East, Labasheeda, County Clare. His father, Edward Whitaker, hailed from County Westmeath and was assistant manager of a linen mill. He received his primary and secondary education at the local CBS in Drogheda. He studied mathematics at University College Dublin.
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 1981, he was nominated to the 15th Seanad by 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 had 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 1995-96 he chaired the Constitution Review Group, an independent expert group established by the government, which published its report in July 1996.
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. After his wife's death in 1994, he remarried, to Mary Moore in 2005. The couple were invited to Áras an Uachtaráin in 2006 for his 90th birthday by the President of Ireland. Mary Moore Whitaker died in 2008. T.K. Whitaker turned 100 in December 2016 and died a month later on 9 January 2017, having survived both of his wives.