Austin Currie was born in County Tyrone in 1939. He was educated at Dungannon and Queens University, Belfast. Between 1964 and 1972 he was elected as Stormont MP for east Tyrone. He became an active member in the Northern Ireland civil rights movement. In 1970 he became a founder-member of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP). From 1973-1975 Currie became a member of the Northern Ireland Assembley. In 1974 he became chief whip of the SDLP. That same year he became Minister for Local Government in the Northern Ireland Executive.
In 1989 he became Fine Gael TD for a Dublin constituency. In 1990 he was the Fine Gael candidate in the Presidential election. However, after procrastination on Fine Gael's part in choosing a candidate he came third after Mary Robinson and Brian Lenihan. In the 'Rainbow Coalition' between 1994 and 1997 he became Minister of State at the Departments of Education, Justice and Health. In the 2002 general election he lost his seat in Dáil Éireann. He immediately announced his retirement from politics.