Austin Currie

Austin Currie
Teachta Dála
In office
June 1989  17 May 2002
Constituency Dublin West
Member of the Parliament of Northern Ireland
In office
30 May 1964  30 March 1972
Preceded by Joseph Francis Stewart
Succeeded by Parliament Suspended
Constituency East Tyrone
Personal details
Born (1939-10-11) 11 October 1939
Dungannon, Northern Ireland
Nationality Irish
Political party Nationalist Party
Fine Gael
Spouse(s) Annita Currie
Children 5
Alma mater Queen's University Belfast
Religion Roman Catholicism

Joseph Austin Currie (born 11 October 1939) is a former politician who was elected to the parliaments of both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Currie was born in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland into a large 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.[1] All 14 houses in the new council development had been allocated to Protestants.[2] 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.[3] This was one of the catalysts of the civil rights movement in Northern Ireland.[2]

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.[4][5]

In 1990, after much procrastination, Fine Gael nominated him as a candidate at the presidential election. He came third in the election after Mary Robinson and Brian Lenihan. 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, where he trains greyhounds. He occasionally lectures and gives talks on issues relating to The Troubles.[6]



  1. Clarke, Liam (21 December 2015). "Lord Kilclooney: 'I'm impressed by Martin McGuinnness' development'". Belfast Telegraph.
  2. 1 2 Dwyer, T. Ryle (4 October 2008). "The spark that lit the Troubles is still smouldering in the embers". Irish Examiner.
  3. "A Chronology of the Conflict - 1968". Conflict Archive on the Internet (CAIN). Retrieved 11 July 2009.
  4. "Austin Currie". Retrieved 12 May 2013.
  5. "Mr. Austin Currie". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 12 May 2013.
  6. 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
Succeeded by
Position prorogued 1972
Parliament abolished 1973
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