Nicholas Leonard, who established the business and finance section of The Irish Times, has died.

He became Ireland’s first full-time business journalist when he was recruited by the newspaper in 1963 at the age of 23 to edit the first daily financial section in any Irish newspaper. It was a time when Seán Lemass was promoting a new outward-looking industrial policy for Ireland on the blueprint drawn up by TK Whitaker. He had been working previously in London with the Investors Chronicle and then the London Evening Standard.

Under Leonard, business coverage evolved from simply listing stock market prices to reporting and analysing business events.

It was a very different time and, speaking years later, he remembered an Irish business community wary of this new exposure of their day-to- day affairs. He recalled being banned from attending the annual general shareholders’ meetings of several listed companies, including the builders’ providers Dockrells.

“I remember its chairman, Maurice Dockrell, very graciously offering me a glass of dry sherry while I sat outside the meeting and waited for him to return with an account of what had happened,” he said.

He later moved to become the founding editor of Business & Finance.

In the late 1960s he left journalism to become a merchant banker at Allied Irish Investment Bank briefly before joining forces with Anthony O’Reilly. With Vincent Ferguson, they formed Fitzwilliam Securities, an investment vehicle later renamed Fitzwilton, which was listed on the Irish Stock Exchange.

He also joined the board of Independent Newspapers and another O’Reilly company, the explorer Atlantic Resources.

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Leonard later returned to journalism as London editor of the Irish Independent.

He is survived by his wife, Kirsty, and two daughters.



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