Michael D. Higgins was born in Limerick in April 1941. He was educated in Ennis, County Clare, University College Galway, Indiana University and Manchester University. Between 1973 and 1977 Higgins was a Senator in Seanad Éireann. In 1981 he was elected a Labour TD for Galway West. When Michael O Leary resigned as Labour leader Higgins allowed his name go forward in the leadership contest. However, both Higgins and Barry Desmond were easily defeated by Dick Spring.
Higgins lost his seat at the following election in 1982 but became Mayor of Galway for one year. He became a Senator again from 1982 to 1987. He has retained his Dáil seat at every election since that year's general election. Higgins became Mayor of Galway again in 1991. In 1993 Higgins was appointed Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in the Fianna Fáil-Labour coalition government. As minister he re-established the Irish Film Board, he allowed the law which prevented Sinn Féin from making broadcasts to lapse and he set up the Irish language television station Teilifís na Gaeilge.
Higgins is strongly committed to human rights and Third World issues. As well as being a TD Higgins has released two poetry collections in 1990 and 1993 respectively. He still remains a TD for his Galway West constituency.