Dick Spring was born on 29 August 1950 in Tralee, County Kerry. He was the son of Dan Spring, also a TD. He was educated in County Tipperary, at Trinity College, Dublin and King's Inns. Spring played Gaelic football and hurling for Kerry in the seventies. He won three rugby caps for Ireland in 1979.
His political life began in 1979 when he was successful in the local elections. In 1981 he was elected to Dáil Éireann, having succeeded his father, and was appointed a junior minister on his first day as a deputy. When Michael O Leary resigned as leader of Labour in 1982, Spring allowed his name go forward in the leadership contest. He easily defeated Barry Desmond and Michael D Higgins. He inherited a deeply divided party.
In 1982 Labour formed a coalition government with Fine Gael. Spring became Tánaiste and Minister for Environment. Spring was closely involved in the negotiations which lead to the Anglo-Irish Agreement in 1985. In 1987 the Labour Party withdrew from the government on budgetary issues. In 1990 the party chose Mary Robinson as presidential candidate. She was elected and enhanced the credibility of the Labour Party. In the 1992 general election the party doubled its Dáil representation winning 33 seats. A coalition government was formed with Fianna Fáil. Spring became Tánaiste for the second time, as well as Minister for Foreign Affairs.
In 1994 Labour split with Fianna Fáil and the coalition came to an end. In the election which followed Labour, Fine Gael and Democratic Left formed a 'Rainbow Coalition'. Spring retained his position as Tánaiste and his ministerial role regarding Foreign Affairs. As Foreign Minister he was an integral part of the Northern Ireland peace negotiations. In 1997 the government fell and an election was called.
The Labour Party fell to 17 seats and lost its position in government. In the prsidential election the Labour candidate, Adi Roche, came in fourth out of five candidates. Following the election Spring resigned as Labour leader. He continued to remain on in politics as a TD. In the general election of 2002 Spring lost his Dáil seat to a Sinn Féin TD.