Former Foreign Minister of Ireland
David Andrews was born on 15th March 1936 in Dublin. He came from one of the great political dynasties of Irish politics: his father, Dr. Todd Andrews, had fought in the War of Independence, and more importantly was a founding member of Fianna Fail, the party where Andrews would be active in most of his life. His mother, Mary Coyle, had also been active in the War of Independence in one of the Irish Republican women’s paramilitary league, Cumann na Mban.
The young Andrews was educated in the austere surroundings at the Cistercian College in Roscrea, Co.Tipperary, a Catholic boarding school founded by the Monks of the Mount St. Joseph’s Abbey. He went on to study law at University College Dublin, and then qualified as a barrister at the Honourable Society of King’s Inns, a law school. In 1965 he ran for the seat of Dun Laoghaire, and was therefore elected for the first time to the Dail Eireann, the lower house of the Irish Parliament. He rose fast through the political ranks of the Fianna Fail party, and was nominated parliamentary secretary to the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Jack Lynch and Chief Whip of the party between 1970 and 1973, when Fianna Fail were voted out of government. Following four years in opposition, Jack Lynch was reinstated in 1977 and Andrews was appointed Minister of State at the Department of Social Affairs. After Lynch’s resignation, Andrews supported George Colley’s candidacy to the party leadership, but Charles Haughey eventually became party leader and Prime Minister. Andrews wrote extensively about his negative relationship with Haughey, who would dominate Irish politics for the next 13 years, and how his support for Haughey’s rival alienated him from the leadership and kept him away from government during all of Haughey’s tenure. Many of Andrews' colleagues in Fianna Fail who opposed Haughey’s policies, like Des O’Malley, went on to become founding members of the Progressive Democrats, but Andrews resisted the temptation. Instead he used his years in the political wilderness to continue his legal studies and to practise as a barrister, taking up various human rights cases.
In 1991, Charles Haughey finally quit and was replaced as Taoiseach by Albert Reynolds, who recalled Andrews to the cabinet as Minister of Foreign Affairs. He then served two years as Minister for the Defence and Marine departments, before being reinstated as Minister for Foreign Affairs, a position he would keep also under following Prime Minister Bertie Ahern from 1997 onwards. His period as head of Irish diplomacy is widely associated with the hugely successful Northern Ireland Peace Talks, and he played a key role as negotiator in the signing of the Good Friday Peace Agreements. He was instrumental in making Ireland join the Partnership for Peace, an organization linking NATO member states and neutral countries, in 1999. He was involved in various humanitarian and diplomatic tasks, including being the EU’s special envoy to East Timor and taking the lead in a multilateral initiative to ban nuclear weapons.
In 2000, he took the step, unusual in Irish politics, of retiring from government and politics altogether in favour of a younger politician. He was appointed chairman of MGM, an insurance company, and then in May 2000 he took up the position of non-executive Chairman of the Irish Red Cross Society. Commenting on his political career, he said that “a large part of my personal motivation in entering politics more than 30 years ago was to make a contribution to peace, reconciliation and justice.” In 2002, his son Barry was elected in the Dun Laoghaire constituency, the same one Andrews held for most of his career, and now sits at the cabinet as a Minister of state. His other son works as an entertainer.