The President expressed his honour at receiving the accolade in his acceptance speech
President Michael D Higgins accepted the inaugural T.K. Whitaker award at the 42nd annual Business & Finance Awards tonight.
At The Convention Centre Dublin, the President paid tribute to T.K. Whitaker and his "many achievements in seeking to make Ireland a more hospitable place for all of its citizens: a land of peace, social and economic thriving, and cultural flourishing."
"From his birth in the year of the Easter Rising of 1916 down to the shift he spearheaded, from the protectionism and self-sufficient outlook of the young Republic towards free trade and European integration, from the years of violence in Northern Ireland down to the Good Friday agreement, the life of T.K. Whitaker is one that mirrors the journey of the modern Irish state", he said in his acceptance speech.
"More than that, it is a life that has affected almost every crucial aspect of change in Ireland’s twentieth century history, and a life that offers a wellspring of inspiration to all of us today.
"All of us can surely be inspirited by the profoundly humanistic vision Ken Whitaker had for the Irish language – a vision to which he gave a compelling articulation when he said, as chairman of Bord na Gaeilge in the 1970s, that our commitment to a bilingual Ireland should be based."
Guests of honour on the night included Sir Bob Geldof, accepting the Outstanding Contribution to Ireland Award, and Susan Whelan, CEO Leicester City Football Club, accepting the Global Irish Outstanding Achievement in Business Award.