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.

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