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Ryan Piurek
University Communications

Last modified: Monday, October 31, 2011

IU extends congratulations to alumnus who will become Ireland's ninth president

Oct. 31, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie today (Oct. 31) extended congratulations to Michael D. Higgins, an IU alumnus who will become Ireland's ninth president.

Michael Higgins

Michael Higgins

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"On behalf of Indiana University, I would like to congratulate IU alumnus Michael D. Higgins upon his election as the ninth president of Ireland and culmination of a long and distinguished career as a politician, lecturer, author and human rights activist," McRobbie said. "Over the course of four decades, President-elect Higgins has dedicated himself to championing Irish culture and passionately defending human rights causes in many parts of the world. He is also renowned for the many intellectual contributions he has made to modern political, philosophical and literary discourse. All of us at IU wish him the greatest success as he prepares to apply his extensive knowledge and experiences to his new role as Ireland's senior ambassador."

Higgins received a master of arts degree in sociology at IU Bloomington in 1967.

Born into humble circumstances in Limerick, and raised in County Clare, Higgins was the first in his family to go to university, where he found the language and the ideas to articulate a deep sense of social justice and hunger for equality. He also was educated at Ballycar National School, St. Flannan's College, University College Galway and Manchester University.

Prior to being elected as Ireland's president on Thursday (Oct. 27), Higgins had been president of the Labour Party of Ireland, a Teachta Dála (a member of Ireland's parliament) for the Galway West constituency and was mayor of Galway. From 1993 to 1997, Higgins served as the country's first minister for arts, culture and the Gaeltacht.

His achievements as culture minister included establishing the Irish language television channel TG4, reinvigorating the country's film industry, ending censorship regime, investing in new public museums and the revitalisation of waterways. He was elected president of the European Council of Culture Ministers. He also is a supporter of gaelic football and hurling and was president of Galway United FC.