Europe

Irish man of the 20th century TK Whitaker dies

Thomas Kenneth Whitaker Image copyright RTE
Image caption Thomas Whitaker was appointed to the top job at the Department of Finance in 1955

The economist and former public servant TK Whitaker has died aged 100 in Dublin.

Whitaker, who was born in Co Down, was named Irish Man of the 20th Century in a public vote in 2001.

His work in the finance department set the blueprint for a plan that reversed the Republic of Ireland's economic problems in the early 1960s.

Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) Enda Kenny described TK Whitaker as "in every sense a national treasure".

Thomas Kenneth Whitaker, who turned 100 last month, was 39 when he was appointed as the Secretary General at the Department of Finance in 1955.

When he took over as Secretary General he concluded that a radical new approach was required.

This thinking resulted in the First Programme for Economic Expansion and was embraced by Taoiseach Sean Lemass.

It would increase foreign investment in Ireland, spur economic growth and cut unemployment rates.

In 1965, Whitaker would also help organise an unprecedented meeting between Taoiseach Sean Lemass and the Prime Minster of Northern Ireland Terence O'Neill.

While this early effort at reconciliation was unsuccessful - it did undoubtedly lay the foundations for future agreements in Northern Ireland.

In 1969 he became Governor of the Central Bank and after retiring from that role he was twice appointed to Seanad √Čireann.

For 20 years up to 1996 he was chancellor of the National University of Ireland.

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