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Joe Higgins MEP

Assumed office 
7 June 2009
Constituency Dublin

In office
June 1997 – May 2007
Constituency Dublin West

Born 1 May 1949 (1949-05-01) (age 60)
Lispole, Kerry, Ireland
Nationality Irish
Political party Socialist Party
Alma mater University College Dublin
Religion None
Website Official website

Joe Higgins (born 1 May 1949) is an Irish Socialist Party politician. He was elected as a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for the Dublin constituency at the 2009 European Parliament election.[1] He was the sole Socialist Party Teachta Dála (TD) from 1997–2007, representing the Dublin West constituency. [2]


Early life

One of nine children of a small farming family, he was born in 1949 in Lispole, part of the Corca Dhuibhne gaeltacht in County Kerry. He went to school in the Dingle Christian Brothers School, and after finishing he enrolled in the priesthood. As part of his training he was sent to a Catholic seminary school in Minnesota, U.S. in the 1960s.

It was against the backdrop of anti-Vietnam War protests and the civil rights movement that Higgins was politicised. He is now an atheist.

He is a brother of the late Liam Higgins who played football with the Kerry senior team in the 1960's & 1970's.

Political life


Early activism

He returned to Ireland and attended University College Dublin studying English and French. For several years he was a teacher in several Dublin inner city schools. While at university he joined the Labour Party and became active in the Militant Tendency, an entryist Trotskyist group that operated within the Labour Party. Throughout his time in the Labour Party he was a strong opponent of coalition politics. He was elected to the Administrative Council of the Labour Party by the membership in the 1980s. In 1989 Higgins was expelled alongside other members of the Militant Tendency. The group eventually left the party and formed Militant Labour which became the Socialist Party in 1996.

Higgins promised to accept only an average worker's wage and thus accepted less than half his TD's salary, donating the rest to the party and to progressive campaigns. Higgins was elected to Dublin County Council in 1991 for the Mulhuddart electoral area and was until 2003 a member of Fingal County Council, at which point his seat was taken by fellow Socialist Party member Ruth Coppinger. In 1996, he campaigned against local authority water and refuse charges and contested the Dublin West by-election, eventually losing narrowly to Brian Lenihan, Jnr.

Career as TD

He was first elected to the Dáil at the 1997 general election and re-elected at the 2002 general election.[3], but lost his seat at the 2007 general election.[4] Though the Socialist Party gained nearly as many votes in other constituencies as it had in 2002, first preference votes for Higgins in Dublin West declined by more than 20 percent.

At the 2004 European Parliament election, Higgins received 23,200 (5.5%) votes in the Dublin constituency, double his 1999 result, but did not win a seat.

He spent one month in Mountjoy Prison in 2003 as a result of his protest against the non-collection of refuse in his constituency during the Anti-Bin Tax Campaign.[5] He was also prominent in the successful 2005 campaign to bring Nigerian school student Olukunle Eluhanla back to Ireland after he had been deported.[6] Higgins remains an opponent of the deportation policy.

Joe Higgins speaking in Dublin 25 June 2004

Higgins used his platform in the Dáil to raise the issue of exploitation of migrant and guest workers in Ireland. He and others claimed that many companies were paying migrants below the minimum wage and, in some cases, not paying overtime rates. In March 2005, Higgins and a delegation of Turkish ex-employees of GAMA Endustri, a Turkish construction firm working in Ireland, travelled to Amsterdam where they discovered that GAMA had been secreting up to 30 million in workers' wages without their knowledge.[7][8]

From 2002 to 2007 he was the leader of a Technical Group in the Dáil which consisted of Independents and small parties grouped together for speaking time.

Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform Michael McDowell once addressed Higgins during a Dáil debate, saying "I do not take lectures on democracy from a Trotskyite communist like Deputy Joe Higgins."[9]

European Parliament seat

He was successful at the 2009 European Parliament election for the Dublin constituency, beating two incumbents, Mary Lou McDonald of Sinn Féin and Eoin Ryan of Fianna Fáil, for the third and final seat.[10] On the same day he was elected to the Fingal County Council for the Castleknock electoral area, topping the poll. Due to dual mandate rules, Higgins vacated this council seat in July 2009 and was replaced by Matt Waine.

See also


  1. ^ "Ryan loses out to Higgins in Dublin". RTÉ News. 8 June 2008. Retrieved 8 June 2008.  
  2. ^ "Mr. Joe Higgins". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 13 April 2009.  
  3. ^ "Joe Higgins". Retrieved 13 April 2009.  
  4. ^ "RTÉ Election 2007". RTÉ News. Retrieved 26 May 2007.  
  5. ^ "Jailed politicians 'grandstanding', says Cullen". RTÉ News. 19 September 2003. Retrieved 29 April 2007.  
  6. ^ Alison O'Connor (17 April 2005). "All that's left?". The Sunday Business Post. Retrieved 29 April 2007.  
  7. ^ "Higgins deems GAMA accounts 'sensational'". RTÉ News. 31 March 2005. Retrieved 29 April 2007.  
  8. ^ "Gama to provide bank account details". RTÉ News. 8 April 2005. Retrieved 29 April 2007.  
  9. ^ "Parliamentary Debates – Dáil Éireann – Volume 564". Houses of the Oireachtas. 3 April 2003. Retrieved 11 December 2009.  
  10. ^ "Higgins beats Ryan to third European seat in Dublin". The Irish Times. 8 June 2009. Retrieved 8 June 2009.  

External links

Preceded by
Joan Burton
Socialist Party Teachta Dála for Dublin West
Succeeded by
Leo Varadkar
(Fine Gael)
European Parliament
Preceded by
Eoin Ryan
(Fianna Fáil)
Member of the European Parliament for Dublin


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Joe Higgins (born 1 May 1949) is an Irish Socialist Party politician. He was the sole Socialist Party Teachta Dála from 1997–2007, representing the Dublin West constituency. He was elected as an MEP for the Dublin constituency at the 2009 European Parliament elections.


  • If this conversion was genuine, we would have to go back 2,000 years to find another as rapid and as radical. Saul’s embrace of Christianity on the road to Damascus stood the test of time but the Taoiseach’s [Bertie Ahern] embrace of socialism on the banks of the Tolka hardly will.

External links

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