About Alice Mary Higgins

An advocate for social and economic equality all her adult life, Alice-Mary has brought passion, imagination and long-term thinking to all her work – whether that be as an activist, a policy expert in civil society or most recently as an Independent Senator in the Irish Parliament. 

She is seeking to represent Dublin in Europe as an independent voice with years of experience as an activist and legislator and a proven ability to change laws, shape debate and work with others to drive positive reform. Alice-Mary has worled with and within European  institutions and European  civil society. She combines an understanding of the big picture and a reputation for joined up thinking with  an eye for the intricacies of policy detail.

Effective Legislator

Alice-Mary was elected in 2016 to serve as an Independent Senator in Seanad Éireann, representing the graduates of the National University of Ireland in the Oireachtas and was the first woman elected to the NUI panel in thirty-five years.

Alice-Mary founded and leads the Civil Engagement Group in the Senate, an alliance of independent Senators with backgrounds in civil society and community activism who share a commitment to strengthening links between civil society and political decision-making.

She has worked both independently as well as with the main political parties to change laws, shape debates and deliver real reform. She runs for Europe with an impressive legislative record; she has tabled over 300 amendments to legislation since 2016, winning many significant changes both with and without agreement from the Government.

Some of her legislative achievements in office include:

  • Ensuring that public bodies would be liable for large fines for data breaches under the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
  • Working cross-party to add the offence of ‘coercive control’ to the Domestic Violence Act.
  • Passing a Seanad motion opposing an investor court system in an EU-Canada trade deal where corporations could sue national governments for lost profits.
  • Introducing legislation requiring that public procurement officers have to consider the quality of a contract bid and not just seek the lowest cost (price-quality ratio).
  • Leading opposition to regressive measures to allow cutting and burning of hedgerows during nesting season and the de-designation of heritage status from our bog lands.
  • Co-sponsor of legislation on lowering the voting age, banning goods and services from occupied territories, banning microbeads, taxing vacant housing sites and increasing the family reunification of refugees.

She has used the Seanad chamber as a forum to scrutinise European Union issues and has led and shaped debate in the Oireachtas on issues such as EU data protection, trade and procurement laws. She also has sought to build cross-party consensus on important issues to Ireland, such as through her role as Chair of the Oireachtas Cross-Party Group on Peace, Neutrality and Disarmament.

Experience in Europe

Alice-Mary has a strong record of involvement with pan-European movements, organisations and assemblies through her role as a member of the Oireachtas and as an advocate for women’s rights.

Alice-Mary served on the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe for 18 months from 2016 to 2017, where was a member of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats grouping. She also worked closely on economic and environmental policies with the European United Left grouping. She is also a member of the Council of Europe ‘No Hate’ Parliamentary Alliance, aimed at tackling hatred, racism and intolerance across Europe.

Alice-Mary was elected in 2017 to the Executive of the European Parliamentary Forum on Sexual and Reproductive Rights. Through her role, she works with other European parliamentarians to challenge the rise of the far right across Europe.

Alice-Mary was elected to the Executive of the European Women’s Lobby in 2014. She worked on the development of the lobby’s new strategy in Brussels and served as their spokesperson on socio-economic issues.

Civil Society Leadership

Prior to her election to the Seanad, Alice-Mary worked as policy coordinator at the National Women’s Council of Ireland. Here her work focused on a range of gender equality issues such as the pension and pay gap, childcare and greater representation of women in all areas of public life.

During her time at Trocaire, Alice-Mary advocated on food security, peacebuilding and climate change. She campaigned on climate justice at the United Nations 2008 talks in Copenhagen.

Whilst working at the Older and Bolder Alliance, Alice-Mary delivered a successful campaign to defend the State Pension and developed campaigns on homecare.

As coordinator of the Comhlamh anti-racism project, she combined legislative work with creative and awareness raising initiatives. She was an active member of the European Network Against Racism and served on the Irish Advisory Group for EU Year of Equal Opportunities.

Committed Activist

Alice-Mary first marched for the Repeal of the Eighth Amendment in the 1990s, campaigned on marriage equality, housing, peace and supported local, national and international campaigns for human rights at home and abroad.

Born and raised in Galway, Alice-Mary moved to Dublin at the age of 18. She holds a graduate degree from University College Dublin, a postgraduate degree from Trinity College Dublin and is a Fulbright Scholar in the Humanities.

Click here for Alice Mary Higgins’ leaflet