About Michael D. Higgins
Dedicated to public service, Michael D. has been elected to Galway City and County Council Seanad Éireann and Dáil Éireann. As Ireland’s first Minister for Arts Culture & the Gaeltacht he was both visionary and innovative.
All his life he has worked to promote the principles of justice, equality and compassion at home and abroad.
Widely acknowledged as a statesman, campaigner, scholar and writer, Michael D. has, since his election by the citizens in 2011, been a President for all of us.
He is now seeking your support to take this work forward into a new chapter.
Michael D. was born in Limerick to a Cork mother who gave him a love of words and music and a father who had fought in the War of Independence. The tragedy of the Civil War had touched his family, with brothers and sisters on different sides, giving him a personal understanding of the challenges and necessity of reconciliation.
When he was five he moved to County Clare where he was raised by his aunt and uncle. Poverty created difficult circumstances for the family, but Michael D was lucky to have a supportive primary school teacher and a chance to access secondary school in Ennis. He went on to work in a factory in Shannon and as a clerk in the ESB in Galway.
He was then offered a loan from a benefactor which allowed him to become the first in his family to attend university.
In University College Galway, Michael D. completed an Arts Degree and a Commerce degree at the same time in order to make the most of his opportunity. He also nurtured his love of poetry the Irish language and sport during these years while becoming known as a firebrand in student politics.
Michael D went on to study and lecture in Indiana, Manchester, Illinois and Galway focusing in particular on issues of emigration and inequality. At UCG he taught Sociology, not only in lecture halls but in community halls along the west coast. He was and remains passionate about the sharing of ideas and learning.
A natural teacher and mentor, his students from this time recall his respect for learning encouragement of debate and irrepressible humour.
In 1975 Michael D. married Sabina, an actress from Ballindine and founder member of Dublin’s Focus Theatre, who shared his passion for art and politics. They have four children Alice Mary, Daniel, and twins John and Michael Jnr. The Higgins family is completed by two Bernese mountain dogs, Bród and Síoda.
A voice for justice and change
All his life Michael D. Higgins has been an advocate for justice and progress.
Both as a member of Seanad Éireann and a TD for Galway West he was fearless in challenging inequity and injustice.
Michael D. was at the forefront of campaigns for progressive change on issues such as the introduction of divorce, access to contraception and equal rights for women. He also opposed the introduction of the 8th amendment of the Constitution in 1983.
For decades he championed issues including decent employment, public housing provision, the rights of people with disabilities and ethical standards for public office holders. As a consistent voice for equality, he fought for elimination of poverty and a ‘citizenship floor’ of basic rights and participation below which no citizen should fall.
Michael D. has always maintained a strong interest in justice and peace worldwide. He campaigned against nuclear proliferation in the 1980s, has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with human rights campaigners, often when they were persecuted or imprisoned, and done all in his power to advance democracy and human rights across the world. In 1992 he was awarded the first Seán McBride International Peace Prize.
A record of achievement
Appointed as Ireland’s first Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht in 1992, Michael D. made brave decisions which continue to benefit Ireland. In 1996, he became President of the European Council of Culture Ministers.
His achievements include the establishment of TG4, new public museums and a network of local arts venues and theatres right across Ireland. He re-established the Film Board, helping to drive the rejuvenation of film, television and animation production in Ireland, creating thousands of jobs in a sector which continues to flourish. He also gave support to Lyric FM and community radio. He led the revitalisation of our canal networks, refurbishing the Royal and Grand canals and linking our waterways with canals in Northern Ireland. He also took the important decision to end Section 31 censorship as a vital step towards debate and peacebuilding on our shared island.
A political life of values and vision
Michael D. Higgins has been one of Ireland’s most active, thoughtful, fearless, caring political figures.
His life has been a record of tireless campaigning, support for important causes which were not always popular and championing of the rights of those most vulnerable in society.
These actions have been driven by deeply-held ideas.
A belief that each person can best realise their full potential when we work together.
The idea that our lives are enriched by creativity and community.
The idea that the economy must serve society, not the other way round.
The idea that we share responsibility for this vulnerable and beautiful planet.
At home and abroad Michael D. Higgins has done us proud. Since his election he has been for President for all of us.
He is asking for your support on Friday October 26th.
Photo credit: Sasko Lazarov / Photocall Ireland / rollingnews.ie