Tom O'Higgins
Thomas Francis O'Higgins (23 July 1916 – 25 February 2003) was an Irish
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

 Fine Gael
Fine Gael
Fine Gael is a centre-right to centrist political party in the Republic of Ireland. It is the single largest party in Ireland in the Oireachtas, in local government, and in terms of Members of the European Parliament. The party has a membership of over 35,000...

 politician, a barrister
A barrister is a member of one of the two classes of lawyer found in many common law jurisdictions with split legal professions. Barristers specialise in courtroom advocacy, drafting legal pleadings and giving expert legal opinions...

 and a judge
A judge is a person who presides over court proceedings, either alone or as part of a panel of judges. The powers, functions, method of appointment, discipline, and training of judges vary widely across different jurisdictions. The judge is supposed to conduct the trial impartially and in an open...


Tom O'Higgins was born in Cork
Cork (city)
Cork is the second largest city in the Republic of Ireland and the island of Ireland's third most populous city. It is the principal city and administrative centre of County Cork and the largest city in the province of Munster. Cork has a population of 119,418, while the addition of the suburban...

 in 1916. He was the son of Thomas F. O'Higgins
Thomas F. O'Higgins
Thomas F. O'Higgins was an Irish politician. He grew up in Stradbally, County Laois, one of sixteen children of Dr. Thomas Higgins and Anne Sullivan. He was first elected to Dáil Éireann in a 14 March 1929 by-election for Dublin North as a Cumann na nGaedheal Teachta Dála , and in the 1932 general...

 and the nephew of Kevin O'Higgins
Kevin O'Higgins
Kevin Christopher O'Higgins was an Irish politician who served as Vice-President of the Executive Council and Minister for Justice. He was part of early nationalist Sinn Féin, before going on to become a prominent member of Cumann na nGaedheal. O'Higgins initiated the An Garda Síochána police force...

. He was educated in St Mary's College, Dublin, Clongowes Wood College
Clongowes Wood College
Clongowes Wood College is a voluntary secondary boarding school for boys, located near Clane in County Kildare, Ireland. Founded by the Society of Jesus in 1814, it is one of Ireland's oldest Catholic schools, and featured prominently in James Joyce's semi-autobiographical novel A Portrait of the...

 and at University College Dublin
University College Dublin
University College Dublin ) - formally known as University College Dublin - National University of Ireland, Dublin is the Republic of Ireland's largest, and Ireland's second largest, university, with over 1,300 faculty and 17,000 students...

 where he became auditor of the Literary and Historical Society. He later attended the King's Inns
King's Inns
The Honorable Society of King's Inns , is the institution which controls the entry of barristers-at-law into the justice system of Ireland...

. 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
Dáil Éireann
Dáil Éireann is the lower house, but principal chamber, of the Oireachtas , which also includes the President of Ireland and Seanad Éireann . It is directly elected at least once in every five years under the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote...

 as a Fine Gael TD
Teachta Dála
A Teachta Dála , usually abbreviated as TD in English, is a member of Dáil Éireann, the lower house of the Oireachtas . It is the equivalent of terms such as "Member of Parliament" or "deputy" used in other states. The official translation of the term is "Deputy to the Dáil", though a more literal...

 for Laois–Offaly. On the same day his brother, Michael O'Higgins
Michael O'Higgins
Michael Joseph O'Higgins was an Irish Fine Gael politician who served as a member of the Oireachtas for nearly thirty years....

, 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 Healthcare
The Voluntary Health Insurance Board — which trades under the brand name Vhi Healthcare, and is still commonly referred to in Ireland as "The VHI" - is the largest health insurance company in the Republic of Ireland. It is a statutory corporation whose members are appointed by the Minister for...

 (VHI). During the 1960s O'Higgins worked closely with Garret FitzGerald
Garret FitzGerald
Garret FitzGerald was an Irish politician who was twice Taoiseach of Ireland, serving in office from July 1981 to February 1982 and again from December 1982 to March 1987. FitzGerald was elected to Seanad Éireann in 1965 and was subsequently elected to Dáil Éireann as a Fine Gael TD in 1969. He...

 and Declan Costello
Declan Costello
Declan Costello was an Irish jurist and Fine Gael party politician, who served as a Teachta Dála for twenty years, as Attorney General for four years and as a High Court judge for another twenty years before his retirement....

 in re-shaping Fine Gael. O'Higgins was chosen as the Fine Gael candidate in the 1966 presidential election
Irish presidential election, 1966
The Irish presidential election of 1966 was held on 1 June 1966. The outgoing president Éamon de Valera reluctantly agreed under Fianna Fáil party pressure to seek a second term. Fine Gael decided to run one of its younger TDs, Tom O'Higgins against him. In an astonishing upset, O'Higgins came...

. He faced the incumbent President and Fianna Fáil
Fianna Fáil
Fianna Fáil – The Republican Party , more commonly known as Fianna Fáil is a centrist political party in the Republic of Ireland, founded on 23 March 1926. Fianna Fáil's name is traditionally translated into English as Soldiers of Destiny, although a more accurate rendition would be Warriors of Fál...

 candidate Éamon de Valera
Éamon de Valera
Éamon de Valera was one of the dominant political figures in twentieth century Ireland, serving as head of government of the Irish Free State and head of government and head of state of Ireland...

. 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
The Tánaiste is the deputy prime minister of Ireland. The current Tánaiste is Eamon Gilmore, TD who was appointed on 9 March 2011.- Origins and etymology :...

, Erskine H. Childers
Erskine Hamilton Childers
Erskine Hamilton Childers served as the fourth President of Ireland from 1973 until his death in 1974. He was a Teachta Dála from 1938 until 1973...

. Childers was elected by 635,867 votes to 578,771. The following year, after the sudden death of Erskine H. Childers, O'Higgins, in his role as Chief Justice
Chief Justice of Ireland
The Chief Justice of Ireland is the president of the Supreme Court of Ireland.Under Constitution of Ireland, the Chief Justice of Ireland also occupies several positions ex officio, these include;* A possible judge of the High Court....

 of the Supreme Court swore in Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh
Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh
Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh served as the fifth President of Ireland, from 1974 to 1976. He resigned in 1976 after a clash with the government. He also had a notable legal career, including serving as Chief Justice of Ireland.- Early life :Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh, one of four children, was born on 12 February...

 as President of Ireland
President of Ireland
The President of Ireland is the head of state of Ireland. The President is usually directly elected by the people for seven years, and can be elected for a maximum of two terms. The presidency is largely a ceremonial office, but the President does exercise certain limited powers with absolute...

. He was Chief Justice until 1985 when he was appointed a Judge of the European Court of Justice
European Court of Justice
The Court can sit in plenary session, as a Grand Chamber of 13 judges, or in chambers of three or five judges. Plenary sitting are now very rare, and the court mostly sits in chambers of three or five judges...

. He remained there until 1991.

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

See also

  • Families in the Oireachtas
    Families in the Oireachtas
    There is a tradition in Irish politics of having family members succeed each other, frequently in the same parliamentary seat. This article lists families where two or more members of that family have been members of either of the houses of the Oireachtas or of the European Parliament...

  • Marleasing SA v La Comercial Internacional de Alimentacion SA
    Marleasing SA v La Comercial Internacional de Alimentacion SA
    Marleasing SA v La Comercial Internacional de Alimentacion SA was a decision of the European Court of Justice concerning the indirect effect of European Union law...

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