Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has appointed Waterdord TD John Deasy to work on the issue of undocumented Irish in the United States, writes Daniel McConnell..
Mr Deasy, who recently missed out on appointment to Mr Varadkar's Cabinet, has significant US experience having worked in Congress. He will report directly to the Taoiseach in his new role.
Speaking to the Irish Examiner, Mr Deasy said: “This is a role I wanted. There are serious issues here that need addressing and it makes sense to have someone who knows Washington.”
It is understood that with the looming crisis of Brexit and the ever-present crisis of Northern Ireland, an additional pair of hands were needed to keep Ireland's presence felt in Washington DC, sources have said.
Mr Deasy originated the idea with the Taoiseach who agreed that it had merit and approved it.
Despite being offered an additional salary, Mr Deasy refused to accept one, other than whatever expenses he incurs in the job.
“He will not receive any additional remuneration for this role, although his official expenses will be met by the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade,” an official statement said.
Announcing the appointment, the Taoiseach said: "As well as his significant experience of 15 years service in Dáil Éireann, John Deasy also has extensive experience in the US Congress, including working on immigration reform legislation.”
“He will bring that experience and his network of contacts to augment the extensive efforts already undertaken by the Government and Embassy to bring about reforms to assist the undocumented Irish. I am delighted that he has agreed to take on this role and I am sure he will make an important contribution to our national efforts on this issue,” he said.
“Mr Deasy will work with the Embassy in Washington DC, under the leadership of the Irish Ambassador to the US, and under the overall political direction of the Minister for Foreign Affairs & Trade and the Minister for Diaspora Affairs,” the statement added.