David Andrews was born on 15 March 1936 in Dublin. He was educated in Roscrea and went on to qualify as a barrister from University College Dublin and King's Inns. Andrews hailed from a very politically minded family. His father, Dr. C.S. (Todd) Andrews fought in the War of Independence and became a founder-member of Fianna Fáil. Andrews' mother, Mary Coyle, was a member of Cumann na mBan. Andrews was first elected to Dáil Éireann in 1965 as a Fianna Fáil deputy. From 1970 to 1973 he served as Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence. In 1977 Jack Lynch appointed him Minister for State at the Department of Foreign Affairs. In the 1979 Fianna Fáil leadership contest Andrews supported George Colley. However, Charles Haughey was elected leader and Taoiseach.
Andrews paid dearly for backing Colley in the leadership bid. He was confined to the backbenches during Haughey's thirteen year period as leader. During this period he maintained his legal practice and campaigned for the Guildford Four, the Birmingham Six and Brian Keenan. In 1992 Albert Reynolds replaced Haughey as party leader and Taoiseach. Andrews was initially appointed as Minister for Foreign Affairs, however, he had to vacate the position when Dick Spring, the then Tánaiste and Labour leader, insisted on the job. Andrews became Minister for Defence and the Marine. In 1997 Bertie Ahern became Taoiseach and Andrews was appointed Minister for Foreign Affairs.
His period as Foreign Minister was extremely successful regarding the Northern Ireland peace talks. In April 1998 the Good Friday Agreement was signed and adopted by the people in the Republic and the North. In 1999 Ireland joined Partnership for Peace. Andrews retired as Minister for Foreign Affairs in January 2000. His brother, Niall Andrews is an MEP for Dublin while his son and nephew also have political ambitions.