Tom O'Higgins


Thomas Francis O'Higgins (23 July 1916 – 25 February 2003) was an Irish Fine Gael politician, barrister and judge who served as Chief Justice of Ireland from 1974 to 1985, a Judge of the Supreme Court from 1974 to 1985, a Judge of the European Court of Justice from 1985 to 1991, a Judge of the High Court from 1973 to 1974, Deputy Leader of Fine Gael from 1972 to 1977 and Minister for Health from 1954 to 1957. He served as a Teachta Dála (TD) from 1948 to 1969.[1]

Thomas O'Higgins
6th Chief Justice of Ireland
In office
17 October 1974  1 October 1985
Nominated byGovernment of Ireland
Appointed byErskine H. Childers
Preceded byWilliam FitzGerald
Succeeded byThomas Finlay
Judge of the European Court of Justice
In office
3 October 1985  8 March 1991
Nominated byGovernment of Ireland
Appointed byEuropean Council
Judge of the Supreme Court
In office
14 May 1974  1 October 1985
Nominated byGovernment of Ireland
Appointed byErskine H. Childers
Judge of the High Court
In office
30 July 1973  14 May 1974
Nominated byGovernment of Ireland
Appointed byErskine H. Childers
Deputy Leader of Fine Gael
In office
20 April 1972  14 September 1977
LeaderLiam Cosgrave
Preceded byNew office
Succeeded byPeter Barry
Minister for Health
In office
2 June 1954  20 March 1957
TaoiseachJohn A. Costello
Preceded byJames Ryan
Succeeded bySeán MacEntee
Teachta Dála
In office
June 1969  February 1973
ConstituencyDublin County South
In office
February 1948  June 1969
ConstituencyLaois-Offaly
Personal details
Born
Thomas Francis O'Higgins

(1916-07-23)23 July 1916
Cork, Ireland
Died25 February 2003(2003-02-25) (aged 86)
Tallaght Medical Center,
Dublin, Ireland
Resting placeShanganagh Cemetery,
Shankill, Dublin, Ireland
NationalityIrish
Political partyFine Gael
Spouse(s)Therese Keane
(m. 1940; d. 2003)
Relations
Children7
Parents
Education
Alma mater

Early life and education


O'Higgins was born in Cork in 1916, and came from an influential Irish political family: his father was Thomas F. O'Higgins and the nephew of Kevin O'Higgins. He was educated at St Mary's College, Dublin, Clongowes Wood College and University College Dublin, where he became auditor of the Literary and Historical Society. He later attended 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.

Political career


O'Higgins was first elected to Dáil Éireann as a Fine Gael TD for the Leix–Offaly constituency at the 1948 general election.[2] On the same day his brother, Michael O'Higgins, was also elected a TD. 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.

Presidential candidate

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 once again as the Fine Gael candidate in the presidential election. This time he faced former Fianna Fáil Tánaiste and Minister, Erskine H. Childers. Childers was elected by 52% to 48%.

Judicial career


Shortly afterwards O'Higgins was appointed a Judge of the High Court. In 1974, after the sudden death of Chief Justice William FitzGerald, O'Higgins, although the most junior High Court judge, was chosen to replace him as Chief Justice of Ireland in the Supreme Court and a Judge of the Supreme Court.

After the sudden death of Erskine H. Childers, O'Higgins, in his role as Chief Justice swore in Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh as President of Ireland. He was Chief Justice 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


References


  1. "Thomas O'Higgins". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 2 May 2011.
  2. "Tom O'Higgins". ElectionsIreland.org. Retrieved 2 May 2011.
Political offices
Preceded by
James Ryan
Minister for Health
1954–1957
Succeeded by
Seán MacEntee
Legal offices
Preceded by
William FitzGerald
Chief Justice of Ireland
1974–1985
Succeeded by
Thomas Finlay