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Joe Higgins

Joe Higgins

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Joe Higgins is an Irish
Irish people
The Irish people are an ethnic group who originate in Ireland, an island in northwestern Europe. Ireland has been populated for around 9,000 years , with the Irish people's earliest ancestors recorded having legends of being descended from groups such as the Nemedians, Fomorians, Fir Bolg, Tuatha...

 Socialist Party
Socialist Party (Ireland)
The Socialist Party is a socialist political party active in Ireland. It is a member of the Committee for a Workers' International .Formerly known as Militant Tendency, then Militant Labour, it adopted the name The Socialist Party in 1996. From their foundation in 1972 until the 1980s, members of...

 politician. In the 2011 general election he 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 Teachta Dála
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...

 (TD) for the Dublin West constituency, having previously served in that capacity from 1997–2007. He was also a Member of the European Parliament
Member of the European Parliament
A Member of the European Parliament is a person who has been elected to the European Parliament. The name of MEPs differ in different languages, with terms such as europarliamentarian or eurodeputy being common in Romance language-speaking areas.When the European Parliament was first established,...

 (MEP) for the Dublin constituency
Dublin (European Parliament constituency)
Dublin is a constituency of the European Parliament in Ireland. It elects 3 Members of the European Parliament using the single transferable vote form of proportional representation .-History and boundaries:...

 from 2009 to 2011, the first Socialist Party MEP.

Early life


One of nine children of a small farming family, he was born in 1949 in Lispole
Lispole
Lispole is a Gaeltacht village in County Kerry, Ireland. It is situated on the Dingle Peninsula 5 miles east of the town of Dingle and 25 miles west of Tralee on the N86 National Secondary Route.-Transport:...

, part of the Dingle
Dingle
Dingle is a town in County Kerry, Ireland. The only town on the Dingle Peninsula, it sits on the Atlantic coast, about 49 kilometres southwest of Tralee and 71 kilometres northwest of Killarney....

 gaeltacht
Gaeltacht
is the Irish language word meaning an Irish-speaking region. In Ireland, the Gaeltacht, or an Ghaeltacht, refers individually to any, or collectively to all, of the districts where the government recognises that the Irish language is the predominant language, that is, the vernacular spoken at home...

 in County Kerry
County Kerry
Kerry means the "people of Ciar" which was the name of the pre-Gaelic tribe who lived in part of the present county. The legendary founder of the tribe was Ciar, son of Fergus mac Róich. In Old Irish "Ciar" meant black or dark brown, and the word continues in use in modern Irish as an adjective...

. He went to school in the Dingle Christian Brothers School
Congregation of Christian Brothers
The Congregation of Christian Brothers is a worldwide religious community within the Catholic Church, founded by Blessed Edmund Rice. The Christian Brothers, as they are commonly known, chiefly work for the evangelisation and education of youth, but are involved in many ministries, especially with...

, and after finishing he enrolled in the priest
Priest
A priest is a person authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and deities. They also have the authority or power to administer religious rites; in particular, rites of sacrifice to, and propitiation of, a deity or deities...

hood. As part of his training he was sent to a Catholic seminary school in Minnesota
Minnesota
Minnesota is a U.S. state located in the Midwestern United States. The twelfth largest state of the U.S., it is the twenty-first most populous, with 5.3 million residents. Minnesota was carved out of the eastern half of the Minnesota Territory and admitted to the Union as the thirty-second state...

, U.S.
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 in the 1960s.

It was against the backdrop of anti-Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

 protests and the civil rights movement
Civil rights movement
The civil rights movement was a worldwide political movement for equality before the law occurring between approximately 1950 and 1980. In many situations it took the form of campaigns of civil resistance aimed at achieving change by nonviolent forms of resistance. In some situations it was...

 that Higgins was politicised.

He is a brother of Liam Higgins
Liam Higgins (footballer)
Liam Higgins was an Irish sportsperson. He played Gaelic football with his local club Lispole and was a member of the Kerry senior inter-county team from 1969 until 1973....

 who played football with the Kerry GAA
Kerry GAA
The Kerry County Board of the Gaelic Athletic Association is one of the 32 county boards of the GAA in Ireland, and is responsible for Gaelic games in County Kerry...

 senior team in the 1960s and 1970s.

Higgins is bilingual in English and Irish
Irish language
Irish , also known as Irish Gaelic, is a Goidelic language of the Indo-European language family, originating in Ireland and historically spoken by the Irish people. Irish is now spoken as a first language by a minority of Irish people, as well as being a second language of a larger proportion of...

, and has expressed support for a policy of multilingualism in Ireland.

Early activism


Higgins returned to Ireland and attended 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...

 studying English
English studies
English studies is an academic discipline that includes the study of literatures written in the English language , English linguistics English studies is an academic discipline that includes the study of literatures written in the English language (including literatures from the U.K., U.S.,...

 and French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

. For several years he was a teacher in several Dublin inner city schools. While at university he joined the Labour Party
Labour Party (Ireland)
The Labour Party is a social-democratic political party in the Republic of Ireland. The Labour Party was founded in 1912 in Clonmel, County Tipperary, by James Connolly, James Larkin and William X. O'Brien as the political wing of the Irish Trade Union Congress. Unlike the other main Irish...

 and became active in the Militant Tendency, an entryist
Entryism
Entryism is a political tactic by which an organisation or state encourages its members or agents to infiltrate another organisation in an attempt to gain recruits, or take over entirely...

 Trotskyist
Trotskyism
Trotskyism is the theory of Marxism as advocated by Leon Trotsky. Trotsky considered himself an orthodox Marxist and Bolshevik-Leninist, arguing for the establishment of a vanguard party of the working-class...

 group that operated within the Labour Party. Throughout his time in the Labour Party he was a strong opponent of coalition
Coalition
A coalition is a pact or treaty among individuals or groups, during which they cooperate in joint action, each in their own self-interest, joining forces together for a common cause. This alliance may be temporary or a matter of convenience. A coalition thus differs from a more formal covenant...

 politics along with TDs Emmet Stagg
Emmet Stagg
Emmet Stagg is an Irish Labour Party politician. He is currently a Teachta Dála for the Kildare North constituency and Labour Party Chief Whip.-Early life:...

 and Michael D Higgins. 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 spends over half his salary on his political party, the Socialist party and causes he supports. His post contribution salary equals the industrial wage. Higgins was elected to Dublin County Council
Dublin County Council
Dublin County Council was a local authority for the administrative county of County Dublin in the Republic of Ireland. It was established by the Local Government Act 1898....

 in 1991 for the Mulhuddart
Mulhuddart
Mulhuddart is a suburb situated to the north-west of Dublin city, in the barony of Castleknock, Ireland. The River Tolka passes near the village.-Location and access:The N3 dual carriageway now by-passes the village...

 electoral area and was until 2003 a member of Fingal County Council
Fingal County Council
Fingal County council is the local authority for the county of Fingal in Ireland. It is one of three local authorities that comprised the former Dublin County Council before its abolition and one of four councils in the Dublin Region. The county seat is in Swords, with another major office...

, 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
Brian Lenihan, Jnr
Brian Joseph Lenihan was an Irish Fianna Fáil politician and barrister who served in the government of Ireland as Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform from 2007 to 2008 and as Minister for Finance from 2008 to 2011...

.

Dáil Éireann (1997–2007)



Higgins was first elected to the Dáil at the 1997 general election
Irish general election, 1997
The Irish general election of 1997 was held on Friday, 6 June 1997. The 166 newly elected members of the 28th Dáil assembled on 26 June 1997 when a new Taoiseach and government were appointed....

 and re-elected at the 2002 general election
Irish general election, 2002
The Irish general election of 2002 was held on Friday, 17 May 2002 just over three weeks after the dissolution of the 28th Dáil on Thursday 25 April by President Mary McAleese, at the request of the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern...

. He lost his seat at the 2007 general election, but regained it at the 2011 general election. From 2002 to 2007 he was a member of the Technical Group
Technical Group
In Irish politics, a technical group is a parliamentary group of Teachtaí Dála who associate to increase their speaking rights in Dáil Éireann, the lower house of the Oireachtas.-Origin and policy:...

 in the Dáil which consisted of various Independent TDs, Sinn Féin
Sinn Féin
Sinn Féin is a left wing, Irish republican political party in Ireland. The name is Irish for "ourselves" or "we ourselves", although it is frequently mistranslated as "ourselves alone". Originating in the Sinn Féin organisation founded in 1905 by Arthur Griffith, it took its current form in 1970...

 and the Green Party
Green Party (Ireland)
The Green Party is a green political party in Ireland. It was founded as the Ecology Party of Ireland in 1981 by Dublin teacher Christopher Fettes. The party became the Green Alliance in 1983 and in 1987 was renamed to its current title in English...

 grouped together for better speaking time. Higgins worked closely with Tony Gregory
Tony Gregory
Tony Gregory was an Irish Independent politician and a Teachta Dála for the Dublin Central constituency from 1982 to 2009.-Early life:...

 during the 28th Dáil, and credited Gregory with proposing that he lead the Technical Group that granted Independents, Socialists, Greens and Sinn Féin greater speaking rights during the 29th Dáil, with Higgins subsequently leading the graveside oration at Gregory's funeral at Gregory's request.

In 2003, Higgins accused Taoiseach Bertie Ahern of having "blood on his hands" in relation to the use of Shannon Airport by American troops. He spoke out against the Iraq War while a TD and addressed the Dublin leg of the March 20, 2003 International Day of Action
March 20, 2003 anti-war protest
On March 20, 2003, the day after the invasion of Iraq had begun, thousands of protests and demonstrations were held around the world in opposition to it. In many cases, these protests were known as "Day X" protests, reflecting the fact that they had been organized to occur when war started,...

.

In April 2003, Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform Michael McDowell
Michael McDowell
Michael McDowell is a Senior Counsel in the Bar Council of Ireland and a former politician. A grandson of Irish revolutionary Eoin MacNeill, McDowell was a founding member of the Progressive Democrats political party in the mid-1980s...

 addressed Higgins during a Dáil debate, saying "I do not take lectures on democracy from a Trotskyite communist like Deputy Joe Higgins." Higgins was demanding an explanation from the minister after being dragged from the gates of Leinster House by riot police while attending an anti-war protest. He questioned why the riot police were not wearing identification numbers.

On 19 September 2003, Higgins was sentenced to one month in Mountjoy Prison
Mountjoy Prison
Mountjoy Prison , founded as Mountjoy Gaol, nicknamed The Joy, is a medium security prison located in Phibsboro in the centre of Dublin, Ireland. It has the largest prison population in Ireland.The current prison governor is Mr...

 as a result of his protest against the non-collection of refuse in his constituency during the Anti-Bin Tax Campaign
Anti-Bin Tax Campaign
The Anti-Bin Tax campaign was a campaign which opposed the introduction of bin charges by local authorities in Ireland. The campaign centred largely in city areas, in particular Dublin. The campaigns were locally based with some co-ordination in the Dublin area...

. He was also prominent in the successful 2005 campaign to bring Nigerian school student Olukunle Eluhanla back to Ireland after he had been deported. Higgins remains an opponent of the deportation policy.

When President Mary McAleese
Mary McAleese
Mary Patricia McAleese served as the eighth President of Ireland from 1997 to 2011. She was the second female president and was first elected in 1997 succeeding Mary Robinson, making McAleese the world's first woman to succeed another as president. She was re-elected unopposed for a second term in...

 telephoned Higgins in 2004 to inform him of her decision to seek re-election, he told her that her office was "superfluous and should be abolished". President McAleese was reported to have been left speechless.

At the 2004 European Parliament election
European Parliament election, 2004 (Ireland)
The 2004 European Parliament election in Ireland was the Irish component of the 2004 European Parliament election. The voting was held on Friday, 11 June 2004. The election coincided with the 2004 local elections...

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

Higgins used his platform in the Dáil to raise the issue of exploitation
Exploitation
This article discusses the term exploitation in the meaning of using something in an unjust or cruel manner.- As unjust benefit :In political economy, economics, and sociology, exploitation involves a persistent social relationship in which certain persons are being mistreated or unfairly used for...

 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
Turkish people
Turkish people, also known as the "Turks" , are an ethnic group primarily living in Turkey and in the former lands of the Ottoman Empire where Turkish minorities had been established in Bulgaria, Cyprus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Greece, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Romania...

 ex-employees of GAMA Endustri
GAMA Endustri
GAMA Industrial Plants Manufacturing and Erection, Inc. is the construction arm of the Turkish company Gama Group, which was established in 1970...

, a Turkish construction firm working in Ireland, travelled to Amsterdam
Amsterdam
Amsterdam is the largest city and the capital of the Netherlands. The current position of Amsterdam as capital city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is governed by the constitution of August 24, 1815 and its successors. Amsterdam has a population of 783,364 within city limits, an urban population...

 where they discovered that GAMA had been secreting up to €30 million in workers' wages without their knowledge. Higgins also called on Conor Lenihan
Conor Lenihan
Conor Lenihan is a former Irish Fianna Fáil politician. He was a Teachta Dála for the Dublin South West constituency from 1997 to 2011, and served as a Minister of State from 2004 to 2011. He then moved to Moscow.-Biography:...

 to resign after Lenihan referred to the GAMA Construction workers as "kebabs".

He expressed opposition in the Dáil to the jailing of the Rossport Five
Rossport Five
The Rossport Five are James Brendan Philbin, brothers Philip and Vincent McGrath, Willie Corduff and Micheál Ó Seighin. All five are from Kilcommon parish, Erris, County Mayo, Ireland and were jailed on 29 June 2005 by Justice Finnegan, President of the High Court of the Republic of Ireland, for...

 in July 2005. He raised the outsourcing of jobs by Irish Ferries in the Dáil in November 2005, requesting new legislation to regulate what he described as "these modern slavers".

In May 2006 Higgins boycotted an address to the Dáil by Australian Prime Minister John Howard
John Howard
John Winston Howard AC, SSI, was the 25th Prime Minister of Australia, from 11 March 1996 to 3 December 2007. He was the second-longest serving Australian Prime Minister after Sir Robert Menzies....

 because of Australia's role in the Iraq War, the country's "criminal" legislation on worker's rights and its theft of oil and gas from the poor people of East Timor
East Timor
The Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, commonly known as East Timor , is a state in Southeast Asia. It comprises the eastern half of the island of Timor, the nearby islands of Atauro and Jaco, and Oecusse, an exclave on the northwestern side of the island, within Indonesian West Timor...

, describing it as "reminiscent of Margaret Thatcher".

In October 2006 Higgins requested the suspension of normal business in the Dáil after it emerged that Ryanair
Ryanair
Ryanair is an Irish low-cost airline. Its head office is at Dublin Airport and its primary operational bases at Dublin Airport and London Stansted Airport....

 had upped its share in Aer Lingus
Aer Lingus
Aer Lingus Group Plc is the flag carrier of Ireland. It operates a fleet of Airbus aircraft serving Europe and North America. It is Ireland's oldest extant airline, and its second largest after low-cost rival Ryanair...

 overnight, amid concerns for workers' rights and passenger welfare.

In 2008 Higgins was a political opponent of the Irish government's first Treaty of Lisbon
Treaty of Lisbon
The Treaty of Lisbon of 1668 was a peace treaty between Portugal and Spain, concluded at Lisbon on 13 February 1668, through the mediation of England, in which Spain recognized the sovereignty of Portugal's new ruling dynasty, the House of Braganza....

 referendum. He described the success of the "No" campaign as "a huge rebuff to the Irish political establishment".

European Parliament (2009–2011)



Higgins successfully contested the 2009 European Parliament election for the Dublin constituency, beating two incumbents, Mary Lou McDonald
Mary Lou McDonald
Mary Lou McDonald is an Irish politician, the current Vice President of Sinn Féin and a Teachta Dála for Dublin Central...

 of Sinn Féin
Sinn Féin
Sinn Féin is a left wing, Irish republican political party in Ireland. The name is Irish for "ourselves" or "we ourselves", although it is frequently mistranslated as "ourselves alone". Originating in the Sinn Féin organisation founded in 1905 by Arthur Griffith, it took its current form in 1970...

 and Eoin Ryan of 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...

, for the third and final seat. On the same day he was elected to the Fingal County Council
Fingal County Council
Fingal County council is the local authority for the county of Fingal in Ireland. It is one of three local authorities that comprised the former Dublin County Council before its abolition and one of four councils in the Dublin Region. The county seat is in Swords, with another major office...

 for the Castleknock electoral area, topping the poll. Due to dual mandate
Dual mandate
A dual mandate is the practice in which elected officials served in more than one elected or other public position simultaneously. This practice is known as double jobbing in Britain and distinguished from double dipping in the United States For example, suppose a...

 rules, Higgins vacated this council seat in July 2009 and was replaced by Matt Waine. He was a member of the European United Left–Nordic Green Left
European United Left–Nordic Green Left
European United Left/Nordic Green Left is a left-wing political group with seats in the European Parliament since 1995.-Position:According to its 1994 constituent declaration, the group is opposed to the present European political structure, but committed to integration...

 (EUL–NGL) group in the European Parliament
European Parliament
The European Parliament is the directly elected parliamentary institution of the European Union . Together with the Council of the European Union and the Commission, it exercises the legislative function of the EU and it has been described as one of the most powerful legislatures in the world...

, the European Parliament
European Parliament
The European Parliament is the directly elected parliamentary institution of the European Union . Together with the Council of the European Union and the Commission, it exercises the legislative function of the EU and it has been described as one of the most powerful legislatures in the world...

's Committee on International Trade
Committee on International Trade
The Committee on International Trade INTA is a committee of the European Parliament.-External links:*...

, the delegation for relations with the countries of South Asia. He was also a substitute member of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs
Committee on Employment and Social Affairs
The Committee on Employment and Social Affairs is a committee of the European Parliament.- Chairman :2009 - : -External links:*...

, the Committee on Petitions
Committee on Petitions
The Committee on Petitions is a committee of the European Parliament.Petitions can also be brought forward by any EU citizen on a matter within the EU's sphere of activities. The Committee hears cases, some 1500 each year, sometimes presented by the citizen themselves at the Parliament...

 and the delegation for relations with the Mercosur
Mercosur
Mercosur or Mercosul is an economic and political agreement among Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. Founded in 1991 by the Treaty of Asunción, which was later amended and updated by the 1994 Treaty of Ouro Preto. Its purpose is to promote free trade and the fluid movement of goods, people,...

 countries.

In 2009 Higgins was a political opponent of the Irish government's re-run of the Treaty of Lisbon
Treaty of Lisbon
The Treaty of Lisbon of 1668 was a peace treaty between Portugal and Spain, concluded at Lisbon on 13 February 1668, through the mediation of England, in which Spain recognized the sovereignty of Portugal's new ruling dynasty, the House of Braganza....

 referendum. He said the guarantees did not change the Treaty. Higgins said, "The overall agenda here is quite simply the ruling classes, or the classes of Europe intend to stride on to the world stage as a powerful economic entity. And they want to be as powerful as the US, meaning they want a stronger foreign policy and a military wing to back them up." He also spoke out against Ireland's Catholic bishops, who claimed neither a "Yes" nor a "No" vote would threaten the unborn, saying that EU spending on arms ought to be enough for the bishops to join the "No" campaign.

On 23 November 2010, Higgins walked out of a meeting of Irish MEPs with EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn
Olli Rehn
Olli Ilmari Rehn is a Finnish politician, currently serving as European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs. He had previously served as Commissioner for Enlargement...

 after two minutes in Strasbourg, prompting criticism from Fine Gael MEP Gay Mitchell
Gay Mitchell
Gabriel "Gay" Mitchell is an Irish politician and Member of the European Parliament for the Dublin constituency since 2004. He is a member of Fine Gael, part of the European People's Party, and a former Teachta Dála for the Dublin South Central constituency from 1981–2007. He was defeated by...

. Higgins said he walked out as information Rehn was giving was to be confidential and that he felt it would have been a betrayal to stay, calling it "unacceptable".

During a debate at the European Parliament
European Parliament
The European Parliament is the directly elected parliamentary institution of the European Union . Together with the Council of the European Union and the Commission, it exercises the legislative function of the EU and it has been described as one of the most powerful legislatures in the world...

 in Strasbourg
Strasbourg
Strasbourg is the capital and principal city of the Alsace region in eastern France and is the official seat of the European Parliament. Located close to the border with Germany, it is the capital of the Bas-Rhin département. The city and the region of Alsace are historically German-speaking,...

, Higgins described the European Financial Stability Facility
European Financial Stability Facility
The European Financial Stability Facility is a special purpose vehicle financed by members of the eurozone to combat the European sovereign debt crisis. It was agreed by the 27 member states of the European Union on 9 May 2010, aiming at preserving financial stability in Europe by providing...

 (EFSF), as “nothing more than another tool to cushion major European banks from the consequences of their reckless speculation on the financial markets”. Higgins claimed the EFSF was a "mechanism to make working class people throughout Europe pay for the crisis of a broken financial system and a crisis-ridden European capitalism”. He accused Barroso and European Council president Herman Van Rompuy
Herman Van Rompuy
Herman Achille Van Rompuy is the first long-term and full-time President of the European Council...

 of effectively transferring tens of billions of euros of private bad debts “on to the shoulders of the Irish people”. Barroso rejected the claims, instead blaming Irish banks and lax regulation for Ireland's problems, saying: “To the distinguished member of this Parliament who comes from Ireland, who asked a question suggesting that the problems of Ireland were created by Europe, let me tell you: the problems of Ireland were created by the irresponsible financial behaviour of some Irish institutions, and by the lack of supervision in the Irish market”.

Paul Murphy
Paul Murphy (Irish politician)
Paul Murphy is an Irish Member of the European Parliament for the Dublin constituency, representing the Socialist Party/United Left Alliance .-Early life:...

 replaced Higgins as an MEP when Higgins was returned to the Dáil.

Dáil Éireann (2011- )


Higgins was re-elected as TD for Dublin West at the 2011 general election. He polled ahead of former Fianna Fáil Finance Minister Brian Lenihan, Jnr
Brian Lenihan, Jnr
Brian Joseph Lenihan was an Irish Fianna Fáil politician and barrister who served in the government of Ireland as Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform from 2007 to 2008 and as Minister for Finance from 2008 to 2011...

. In his first speech of the new Dáil he opposed the nomination of Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny as Taoiseach. Higgins announced that he would "put up a principled opposition to the Fine Gael-Labour coalition which is most likely", since they are "going to carry on with the same policies as Fianna Fáil, making working class people pay for the bankers' bad gambling debts". He promised to work with the other United Left Alliance TDs "as a coherent, principled opposition". He is one of the people who have suggested the creation of a national exploration company which would allow the state to retain any profits obtained from natural resources.

Ahead of the occasion of Queen Elizabeth II's visit to the Republic of Ireland
Queen Elizabeth II's visit to the Republic of Ireland
Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh made a state visit to the Republic of Ireland from 17 May to 20 May 2011, at the invitation of the President of Ireland, Mary McAleese....

 in May 2011, Higgins asked Enda Kenny in the Dáil if "the queen of England might be politely asked to contribute to the cost of her bed & breakfast during her visit to Ireland," observing that "the Irish people needed the financial help since they could soon be – metaphorically speaking – sleeping rough
Homelessness
Homelessness describes the condition of people without a regular dwelling. People who are homeless are unable or unwilling to acquire and maintain regular, safe, and adequate housing, or lack "fixed, regular, and adequate night-time residence." The legal definition of "homeless" varies from country...

, as the country faced bankruptcy
Bankruptcy
Bankruptcy is a legal status of an insolvent person or an organisation, that is, one that cannot repay the debts owed to creditors. In most jurisdictions bankruptcy is imposed by a court order, often initiated by the debtor....

 to pay off the debts of German
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 and French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 banks which had recklessly gambled and lost in the Irish property bubble
Irish property bubble
The property bubble in the Republic of Ireland began in 2000 and peaked in 2006, as with many other western European countries, with a combination of increased speculative construction and rapidly rising prices....

". On 4 May 2011, Enda Kenny was forced to apologise to Higgins in the Dáil after falsely accusing him of being a supporter of Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden was the founder of the militant Islamist organization Al-Qaeda, the jihadist organization responsible for the September 11 attacks on the United States and numerous other mass-casualty attacks against civilian and military targets...

. Higgins had asked the Taoiseach: “Is [assassination] only justified if the target is a reactionary, anti-democratic, anti-human rights obscurantist like bin Laden?”.

Higgins expressed his view on the imprisonment of pensioner Teresa Treacy, saying "It is outrageous that [the ESB] is oppressing a powerless citizen in this way". Higgins made a personal visit to the site of the dispute. He vowed there would be a nationwide campaign of "people power" against any household and water charges. In September 2011, Higgins committed to facilitating the nomination of Senator David Norris for a place on the ballot paper ahead of the 2011 Irish presidential election. On the occasion of the publication of the Keane report on mortgage arrears in October 2011, Higgins criticised Enda Kenny's government and said the report was “a banker's charter written by bankers”. His description of allowing the banks to solve their own problems as being "like sending a bunch of marauding foxes that had raided a henhouse back to give mouth-to mouth resuscitation to their victims" was quoted several times by other commentators in the media. Higgins addressed "The EU in Crisis" public debate, held at the Ireland Institute in Dublin in October 2011. He served as Ruth Coppinger's election agent in the 2011 Dublin West by-election
Dublin West by-election, 2011
A by-election was held in the Dublin West constituency on 27 October 2011 following the death of the Fianna Fáil Teachta Dála and former Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan, Jnr on 10 June 2011...

, held alongside the presidential election. At her campaign launch Higgins said Taoiseach Enda Kenny was engaging in a “cynical manipulation of the political agenda” by delaying the publication of his government's comprehensive spending review until after the elections.

In the Dáil, Higgins accused Tánaiste
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 :...

 Eamon Gilmore
Eamon Gilmore
Eamon Gilmore is an Irish Labour Party politician and the current Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade. He has been the Leader of the Labour Party since September 2007, and a Teachta Dála for the Dún Laoghaire constituency since 1989, first with the Workers' Party of Ireland, and...

 of doing nothing for the 14 Irish citizens being held "incommunicado
Incommunicado
Incommunicado, as an adjective or adverb, refers to a situation or a behaviour due to which communication with outsiders is not possible, for either voluntary or involuntary reasons, especially due to confinement or reclusiveness....

" by Israel in November 2011.

See also

  • Committee for a Workers' International
    Committee for a Workers' International
    The Committee for a Workers' International is an international association of Trotskyist parties. Members include the Socialist Party of England and Wales, the Socialist Party , the Socialist Party the Democratic Socialist Movement in South Africa and Nigeria and groups using the name Socialist...

  • List of imprisoned members of the Oireachtas

External links