ANN CAHILL: Three Irish nominees selected to head EU embassies

THREE Irish people have been selected to head EU embassies while another Irish candidate is widely expected to be appointed to manage the administration of the new European External Action Service.

The three are all working in the European Commission and fought off competition from other member countries, including diplomats from Department of Foreign Affairs.

The appointments to the first 25 ambassadorial positions are due to be announced by the EU's external affairs chief, Catherine Ashton, today, while candidates for her top team of 10 are being interviewed.

It is understood that the three Irish heads of delegations or embassies will all be appointed to countries in Africa. One of these is Mozambique, one of the poorest countries in the world and a major focus for the Irish Aid programme.

A big number of Department of Foreign Affairs personnel had expressed interest in some of the positions. However, there may be posts for some of them under the next allocation for next year.

Darren Ennis, spokesperson for Ms Ashton, said she was extremely pleased with the level of interest shown by Irish candidates in response to her request for the best and brightest to come forward.

“She is confident she has chosen the best people for the right jobs and been sympathetic to the need for gender and geographical balance in this first round,” he said, referring to the competition between member states for prime jobs.

It is understood there were nine Irish people on the shortlist for the jobs and having three appointed in the first round represents 12% of the available posts.

David O’Sullivan, who is head of the commission’s trade directorate and a former secretary general of the commission, is expected to get the job of overseeing the service’s administration.

The French ambassador to the US, Pierre Vimont, is expected to be secretary-general while Germany’s Helga Schmid, is tipped as one of his deputies.


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