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Thomas Francis O'Higgins (23 July 1916 – 25 February 2003), was an Irish Fine Gael politician, a barrister, and a judge.

Tom O'Higgins was born in Cork in 1916. He was the son of Dr. Thomas F. O'Higgins and the nephew of Kevin O'Higgins. He was educated in Dublin, at University College Dublin where he became auditor of the University College Dublin Law Society. He later attended the King's Inns. In 1938 he qualified as a barrister and was called to the Bar. In 1954 he was called to the Inner Bar.

In 1948 O'Higgins was elected to Dáil Éireann as a Fine Gael TD for Laois–Offaly. On the same day his brother, Michael O'Higgins, was also elected. In the second Inter-Party government (1954–57) O'Higgins was appointed Minister for Health. During his period as Minister for Health he introduced the Voluntary Health Insurance Board (VHI). During the 1960s O'Higgins worked closely with Garret FitzGerald and Declan Costello in re-shaping Fine Gael. O'Higgins was chosen as the Fine Gael candidate in the 1966 Presidential election. He faced the incumbent President and Fianna Fáil candidate Éamon de Valera. O'Higgins came within 1% of beating de Valera, which was much better than he had hoped.

In 1973 O'Higgins was again chosen as the Fine Gael candidate in the Presidential election. This time he faced former Fianna Fáil Tánaiste, Erskine H. Childers. Childers was elected by 635,867 votes to 578,771. The following year, following the sudden death of Erskine H. Childers, O'Higgins swore in Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh as President of Ireland. That same year he became Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. He held that post until 1985 when he was appointed a Judge of the European Court of Justice. He remained there until 1991.

O'Higgins died on 25 February 2003 at the age of 86.

See also

Political offices
Preceded by
James Ryan
Minister for Health
Succeeded by
Seán MacEntee


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