Professor Patrick Lynch
It is fitting that the University of Limerick should honour Professor Patrick Lynch, member of the Royal Irish Academy, distinguished scholar, public servant and economist, a creative academic, a business person... and in a very real and practical sense a patriot. Through his career, and in his public and personal life Patrick Lynch has espoused and fostered many of those values which this University cherishes.
He has pursued and created enterprise and development, both nationally and internationally, he has channelled his energy and expertise towards the public good and the welfare of others, and he has contributed to and shaped academic thought and thinking in many areas. He has created these values through personal service, commitment and dedication over a wide range of interests, and by motivating idealism and commitment in others.
Patrick Lynch was born in 1917 and received his third level education at University College, Dublin. He entered the Civil Service in 1941 and rose quickly to the very senior rank of Assistant Secretary to the Government. In the early 1950s he joined the academic staff of University College, Dublin and there, too, rose to the most senior levels. He was Associate Professor from 1966 to 1975 and Professor of Political Economy (Applied Economics) from 1975. He is now Professor Emeritus at University College, Dublin. In recognition of his academic standing Patrick Lynch has been Fellow Commoner at Peterhouse, Cambridge. Paralleling these public service and academic careers, Patrick Lynch has left his imprint on the Irish Public Service and business, and on both national and international policies for socio-economic development.
In relation to the public service, he has been Chairman of Aer Lingus for 21 years, from 1954 to 1975, and retired from that position at his own request to the Government of the day. Surely a record! He has acted as economic consultant to the Department of Finance and he has directed and acted as Chairman of two major surveys sponsored by the Irish Government and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) during the 1960s. First, there was the survey on long term Irish educational needs which resulted in that most important work and publication: "Investment in Education"; and, second, the survey into the requirements of the Irish economy in respect of scientific research, development and technology which resulted in the fundamental publication: "Science and Irish Economic Development". Much of what was reported and recommended in both these major works, relating to national policy for investment in education and in science and technology, is still relevant today. Patrick Lynch, also, has been long-serving Chairman and/or a member of many Irish Government commissions and committees - to mention but some of the many: the Medico-Social Research Board, the National Economic and Social Council, the Public Service Advisory Council, the Economic and Social Research Institute, the Institute of Public Administration, the Higher Education Authority, and the National Science Council. These are but some of the national-level bodies to which Professor Lynch has devoted his efforts and wisdom as Chairman or member and to which he has contributed immensely.
Worthy of very special mention, I believe, is Patrick Lynch's chairmanship of the Irish anti-apartheid movement in the early 1970s. He espoused and directed this cause at a time when, perhaps, it was not seen as clearly to be "the right thing to do" as has been the case in recent times. Here, as in many other areas, time has borne out Patrick Lynch's wisdom, his sound judgement, and his deep sense of human and social justice. Paralleling this anti-apartheid activity, he contributed to the Irish Council for Civil Liberties and the Movement for Peace in Ireland.
Interwoven with his national level activities has been Patrick Lynch's activity at the international level. He has published much, nationally and internationally, and has spoken and lectured widely on many of the most widely acclaimed social and economic problems of the day... before they were accepted as such or had become fashionable. He was the first and, to date, only member from Ireland of the prestigious Club of Rome. And he has been a member of many of the earlier European Union advisory groups and committees including the European Science Foundation. He has acted as consultant to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), to the Council of Europe, and to the Gullenkian Institute.
As if this were not enough for any one career, Patrick Lynch was also involved in Irish corporate business at the highest levels. For instance, he was for many years member of the Board of Directors of Allied Irish Banks, plc. and its precedessor... and from 1976 to 1984 served as Joint Deputy Chairman of AIB.
He was active in and contributed to all these areas while still playing a very full role as an academic and in the academic and managerial affairs of University College, Dublin. He was a member of the Governing Body of University College, Dublin and of the Senate of the National University of Ireland for many years. And he has had a record in University College, Dublin of being at all times available to students and of broadening, challenging and testing their academic vision and hypotheses. He spearheaded academic consideration of, for instance, planning for economic development, investment in education, the economics of science and technology and science policy, the economics of the environment, and sustainable socio-economic development before they became fashionable as academic and public policy issues. He professed what may have been new, unusual and indeed strange... because he believed in it. In all cases, time has vindicated his vision and his judgement.
A remarkable man. A person who, from his academic base in Ireland, has shaped many national and international policies relevant to socio-economic development. Patrick Lynch was and is a man of leadership, of vision, of firm commitment and dedication... and a man of service, always harnessing the realities and possibilities which surround him to his broader vision... and through this achieving progress and increase in welfare. Where others saw obstacles, problems and devisiveness, Patrick Lynch saw opportunity and a synergy for development.
It is not surprising that the achievements of such a person have already been acknowledged both at home and by the international community. Patrick Lynch has received honorary doctorates from the Brunel University (1976), from the University of Dublin (Trinity College)(1979), and from the National University of Ireland (1985). He has also been cited, on many occasions, as a statesman and scholor. His advice is sought continually at the highest levels of policy making.
In honouring Patrick Lynch today, we honour: a scientist, scholar and visionary; a public servant and statesman; a person who has contributed much to our society, its public good, and to the economic and social well-being of our country.
It is fitting that the University of Limerick should honour Patrick Lynch by awarding him an Honorary Doctorate of Economic Science.