On the 27th of October, the people of Ireland elected Michael D. Higgins President of Ireland. On November 11, 2011, he will become Ireland’s 9th president at the inauguration ceremony in Dublin Castle.
For Indiana University, this is also a special occasion since Higgins graduated from IU Bloomington in 1967 with a Master of Arts degree in Sociology. Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie extended congratulations to Michael D. Higgins on October 31st.
Now a little bit of information about Higgins. He was born Michael Daniel Higgins in 1941 in Limerick. He is a known poet, author, and politician. He briefly joined the Fianna Fáil party while at the University College Galway, but later joined the Labour Party. He has served in both Houses of the Oireachtas. He was appointed to Seanad Éireann or the Senate in 1973, but was first elected in 1981 to Dáil Éireann or the House of Representatives. Other positions that he has held include Mayor of Galway and the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht. He has campaigned “for progressive change on equal pay for women, access to contraception, divorce, the rights of people with disabilities and many other important issues” (quote from his campaign website.) Though he campaigned as a member of the Labour Party, when he learned he had been elected President of Ireland he gave up his party membership saying “the presidency was an independent office” (quote from the IrishTimes.com.)
Here are some fun facts about the Office of the President of Ireland:
- To be a candidate for the presidency a citizen must be over 35 years of age and must be nominated either by: (Not less than 20 members of Dáil or Seanad Éireann) or (Not less than 4 administrative counties (including County Boroughs))
- One term of office is 7 years
- A president may only serve for two terms
- The President appoints the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) on the nomination of Dáil Éireann
To learn more information about Ireland, check out the IU Libraries Green Box page on Ireland, which has a listing of resources that will give you more information about the country. Also check out the President of Ireland’s page, which at the time of this posting was still devoted to President McAleese.