Austin Currie

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Austin Currie
Austin Currie 2014 (cropped).jpg
Minister of State for Justice
In office
20 December 1994 – 26 June 1997
TaoiseachJohn Bruton
Preceded byWillie O'Dea
Succeeded byMary Wallace
Teachta Dála
In office
June 1989 – May 2002
ConstituencyDublin West
Member of the Parliament of Northern Ireland
for East Tyrone
In office
30 May 1964 – 30 March 1972
Preceded byJoseph Francis Stewart
Succeeded byParliament suspended
Personal details
Joseph Austin Currie

(1939-10-11) 11 October 1939 (age 81)
Dungannon, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland
Political partyFine Gael
Spouse(s)Annita Currie (m. 1968)
Children5 (including Emer Currie[1])
ResidenceAllenwood, Kildare, Ireland
Alma materQueen's University Belfast

Joseph Austin Currie (born 11 October 1939) is an Irish former Fine Gael politician who served as Minister of State for Justice from 1994 to 1997. He served as a Teachta Dála (TD) for the Dublin West constituency from 1989 to 2002 and Member of the Parliament of Northern Ireland (MP) for East Tyrone from 1964 to 1972.

Currie was born in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, to a Catholic family. He was educated in Dungannon and at Queen's University Belfast. Between 1964 and 1972, he was the Nationalist Party Stormont MP for East Tyrone. On 20 June 1968, with others including mediator Father Tom Savage, he began a protest about discrimination in housing allocation by squatting (illegally occupying) in a house in a new council development in Caledon, County Tyrone. The house had been allocated by Dungannon Rural District Council to a 19-year-old unmarried Protestant woman, Emily Beattie, who was the secretary of a local Unionist politician.[2] All 14 houses in the new council development had been allocated to Protestants.[3] The protesters were evicted by officers of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), one of whom was Emily Beattie's brother. The next day the annual conference of the Nationalist Party unanimously approved of the protest action by Austin Currie in Caledon.[4] This was one of the catalysts of the civil rights movement in Northern Ireland.[3]

He became an active member in the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association. In 1970, he was a founder of the group that established the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP). From 1973 to 1974, Currie was a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly. In 1974, he became chief whip of the SDLP. That same year he became Minister for Housing, Local Government and Planning in the Northern Ireland Executive.

He contested the 1979 United Kingdom general election and 1986 by-election in the Fermanagh and South Tyrone seat. He also was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 1982 for the same seat.

By 1989, Currie had decided to move south, and at the general election of that year he was elected as a Fine Gael Teachta Dála for the Dublin West constituency.[5][6]

In 1990, after much procrastination, Fine Gael nominated him as a candidate at the presidential election. He finished a distant third in the election after Mary Robinson and Brian Lenihan. However, his transfers flowed overwhelmingly to Robinson, helping Robinson overtake Lenihan and make her Ireland's first female President.

In the Rainbow Coalition between 1994 and 1997, he became Minister of State at the Departments of Education, Justice and Health. At the 2002 general election he lost his seat in Dáil Éireann when he failed to be elected in Dublin Mid-West. He immediately announced his retirement from politics.

He currently resides in County Kildare. He occasionally lectures and gives talks on issues relating to The Troubles.[7] Following the deaths of Seamus Mallon and John Hume in January and August 2020 respectively, he became the last-surviving senior founder of the SDLP.


  • Austin Currie (2004). All Hell Will Break Loose, Dublin: O'Brien Press.


  1. ^ "'We intend on being prepared for election' - daughter of former Fine Gael minister selected as Varadkar's running mate". The Independent. Retrieved 28 June 2020.
  2. ^ Clarke, Liam (21 December 2015). "Lord Kilclooney: 'I'm impressed by Martin McGuinnness' development'". Belfast Telegraph.
  3. ^ a b Dwyer, T. Ryle (4 October 2008). "The spark that lit the Troubles is still smouldering in the embers". Irish Examiner.
  4. ^ "A Chronology of the Conflict – 1968". Conflict Archive on the Internet (CAIN). Retrieved 11 July 2009.
  5. ^ "Austin Currie". Retrieved 12 May 2013.
  6. ^ "Austin Currie". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 12 May 2013.
  7. ^ Ross, Shane (23 November 2008). "Where are they now: Austin Currie". Irish Independent.
Parliament of Northern Ireland
Preceded by
Joseph Francis Stewart
Member of Parliament for East Tyrone
Parliament abolished
Northern Ireland Assembly (1973)
New assembly Assembly Member for Fermanagh & South Tyrone
Assembly abolished
Northern Ireland Constitutional Convention
New convention Member for Fermanagh & South Tyrone
Convention dissolved
Northern Ireland Assembly (1982)
New assembly MPA for Fermanagh and South Tyrone
Assembly abolished