A profile of the Labour Party Chairman Michael D Higgins.

Michael D Higgins, a University College Galway (UCG) lecturer and former Senator succeeds Roddy Connolly as Chairman of the Labour Party. 

The post of party chairman certainly carries prestige and status but it's a position that pales beside the acquisition of those elusive that Higgins has sought after for almost ten years now, TD.

Coming from rural County Clare, Michael D Higgins came to Galway in 1960 as a clerk in the ESB. Two years later, he enrolled in UCG and excelled in his college career that brought him to the world of academia, now a lecturer in Sociology. 

Michael D Higgins recalls his feelings of isolation growing up in rural Clare with his aunt and uncle. 

His involvement in party politics began with a brief term as chairman of UCG Fianna Fáil. He first ran as a Labour candidate in Galway West in 1969 gaining 1,100 votes and in 1973 he amassed over 5,000 votes. As the years passed his politics moved more to the left and he now feels that the next election must be make or break for him. He is opposed to coalitions and believes that the Labour Party has suffered by its involvement in government with Fine Gael.

As it had to cut back its socialist programme, it has lost membership. It lost, I think, a certain amount of credibility.

Michael D Higgins believes that for the Labour Party to be successful it must show a commitment to unambiguous and practical policies. He points out that the appeal of socialism is in its rationality. 

The nature of coalitions is that one loses one's programme.

Higgins believes that the Labour Party should have a single minded radical course with clear and practical policies around jobs, housing, health, environment and culture.

The Labour Party recently opened a centre overlooking Eyre Square in Galway, partly in an effort to garner support so that Higgins will secure a Dáil seat.

If anyone is to get a seat for Labour west of the Shannon, it would be Michael D

This episode of 'PM' was broadcast on 2 May 1978. The reporter is Nick Coffey.