No US ambassador for second consecutive St Patrick’s Day

Ireland will be without a US ambassador for a second St Patrick’s Day in a row, despite earlier expectations that the position would be announced during Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s visit there later this week.

The delay in making the appointment is expected to be discussed during Mr Kenny’s meeting with US president Barack Obama in the Oval Office this Friday.

Given the criticism the delay is drawing from the Irish- American community in the US, Mr Obama is likely to make some reference to it during Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations in the White House.

The position has been vacant since former ambassador Dan Rooney stepped down in December 2012 — making this the longest vacancy in the post since 1927.

While the US Embassy in Dublin said it could not confirm anything, sources said the appointment is not going to happen during the St Patrick’s Day events.

It would normally have to be notified to the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs a few days beforehand, but this has not yet happened.

US sources said this is not in any way a snub to Ireland. “It’s the only country afforded a bilateral meeting with the president every year,” said US sources.

“It’s likely that some reference will be made to it in the private discussions between Mr Kenny and the president in the Oval Office.”

It is understood that the Obama administration was ready to make an appointment last summer, but the person chosen then pulled out.

The vetting process is also said to be very time-consuming. The position is usually filled from a pool of political donors and therefore candidates usually have extensive business interests that must undergo background checks.

Stella O’Leary, the founder of Irish-American Democrats, told the US-based Irish Central website that there is no shortage of Irish-Americans qualified for the job.

“There has been no communication, no reason for the delay and this has been to the severe disadvantage of the Irish in America and of Ireland,” said Ms O’Leary.

© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved

Email Updates

Receive our lunchtime briefing straight to your inbox

More in this Section

Protesters want HSE to fund life-transforming emphysema drug Respreeza

Shane Ross on Bus Éireann crisis: They just want my cheque book

More cash needed to fix local and regional roads, Dáil committee told

Gambling support groups raise concerns over rise in virtual racing


Breaking Stories

Irish Ambassador to Egypt to visit Ibrahim Halawa

Minister for Defence: Improving economy to blame for retention problems within the forces

Dublin resident to be interviewed in Italy after disappearance of his wife

Early tallies augur well for Simon Coveney in Fine Gael leadership race

Lifestyle

It's almost time - so who’ll win the Oscars?

Notes On A Rave explores early days of Irish underground dance music scene

A question of taste: Cork actor and puppeteer Dominic Moore

Whimsical, subversive, darkly romantic: The many styles of Ruth Negga

More From The Irish Examiner