Brendan Halligan (born 5 July 1936) is an Irish economist and former politician. He is founder and currently President of the Institute of International and European Affairs (IIEA), a think tank on European and international affairs. He is president of the Ireland China Institute, a new independent think tank based in Dublin, Ireland, which is preparing to launch officially in June 2019. He is also a Board Member of Mainstream Renewable Power. At various times he has been General Secretary of the Labour Party, a Teachta Dála (TD), and a Member of the European Parliament (MEP).
Halligan was born in Dublin in 1936. He was educated at St James's Christian Brothers School and Dublin Institute of Technology, Dublin, he graduated with a master's degree from University College Dublin in 1964. Following an early career as an economist, working with the Irish Sugar Company until 1967, he became involved in politics. In that year, he became General Secretary of the Labour Party.
The party leader, Brendan Corish, relied on Halligan's intellectual and political skills in his new role. Under Halligan, the party underwent an energetic reorganisation. New structures and policies were put in place, coinciding with the party's leftward policy shift and an acute anti-coalition stance. He strongly supported both approaches, but was instrumental in securing the party's eventual, somewhat unwilling, reversal of its anti-coalition stance after its disappointing result in the 1969 general election. The 1973 general election resulted in a Fine Gael-Labour Party coalition government coming to power.
Halligan was appointed to Seanad Éireann in 1973; three years later, he won a by-election in Dublin South-West, and thus became a TD. After boundary changes, he stood in the new Dublin Finglas at the 1977 general election, but was not elected. Halligan stood again in the revived Dublin North-West constituency at the 1981 and November 1982 general elections, but again was not elected.
He continued to serve as General Secretary of the party until 1980, and was appointed a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from 1983 until 1984, replacing Frank Cluskey, where he specialised in economic affairs and energy policy.
In 1980, Halligan set up CIPA, his own public affairs consultancy based in Dublin, and became a lecturer in Economics at the University of Limerick. In the same year he founded the Institute of European Affairs (IEA), which later became the IIEA; he has had a strong commitment to European affairs since the 1960s. In 1985, he was appointed as Chairman of Bórd na Móna, the Irish Peat Development Authority, a position he held for ten years. He was Director of CIPA until 2014.
Resulting from his keen interest and experience in energy policy and renewable energy, Halligan served as Chair of the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland from 2007 until 2014. He is currently Chair of the IIEA, and he is also a Board Member of Mainstream Renewable Energy.