Retiring PD chief’s strong Loughglynn links

Pauline Scott Former Loughglynn primary school teacher John Higgins has left his position as General Secretary of the Progressive Democrats this week after nearly ten years in the post and will now take up a job as Chief Executive of the Retirement Planning Council.  Mr. Higgins, a native of Ballyhaunis, taught in Loughglynn from the early 70s until 1990 when he took up a community development post in Kiltimagh. Apart from being general secretary of the party, Mr. Higgins also acted as national director of elections for all of the party’s election campaigns since his appointment in December 1998. He started his working career as a primary teacher and graduated from St. Patrick’s College, Drumcondra in 1968. He graduated with a BA degree from UCD in 1973. In the early 90s he was conferred with a Diploma in Accounting and Finance under the auspices of the ACCA. In recent times he has achieved a Masters Degree in Political Communications. John quit primary teaching in 1990, to become a full-time Community Development Manager in Kiltimagh, Co. Mayo until 1995. Subsequently his book ‘The Kiltimagh Experience – Best Practice in Community Development’ was published by Oak Tree Press. He was then appointed as CEO of the Western Development Partnership Board in 1995 under the auspices of Dept. of An Taoiseach and held that post until the establishment of the Western Development Commission. In this role he was responsible for preparing an Action Plan for Western Development, which was adopted by the Government in 1997. In 1997 he established his own business consultancy and worked on contract with many SMEs and agencies. He also was involved as a director of a new hotel development in Donegal Town. He was recently awarded a Masters Degree in Political Communication in Dublin City University. His thesis is entitled: ‘Leaders or Followers: a study of opinion polling in Ireland 1977 to 2002’. After the announcement of his departure numerous PD politicians paid tribute to Mr. Higgins, including acting party leader Mary Harney and leadership contestants Ciaran Cannon and Fiona O’Malley.