US president Joe Biden has nominated Massachusetts politician Claire Cronin as the new Ambassador to Ireland.
The White House announced the much-speculated nomination on Wednesday, with Ms Cronin set to become the first female holder of the office since Jean Kennedy Smith ended her term in 1998.
Ms Cronin currently serves as a representative and majority leader in the legislature of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The White House says that she was "the architect of significant pieces of legislation, including major criminal justice reform and police reform" in her home state.
A lawyer, she previously worked in liaison and constituent services in the office of Massachusetts governor Edward King.
The position of ambassador has been vacant since Mr Biden took office in January, having been vacant for two years of the Trump administration before Edward Crawford was appointed in 2019.
Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney welcomed the nomination.
“I am delighted that president Biden has announced his decision to nominate state representative Claire Cronin as the next US Ambassador to Ireland," said Mr Coveney.
“Despite a uniquely challenging year since the outbreak of Covid-19, the strength of Ireland’s connections with the United States endure.
“Our people-to-people links are unparalleled with approximately 30m Americans claiming Irish heritage, including president Joe Biden. The US is one of our most important trading and investment partners, and it remains an unfailing supporter of the Northern Ireland peace process and Good Friday Agreement."
Elsewhere, Mr Biden has nominated Irish woman Fiona Whelan Prine to the National Council on the Arts. She is the wife of late musician John Prine.
Ms Whelan Prine volunteers with Nashville-based Thistle Farms, a global non-profit social enterprise dedicated to helping female survivors to recover and heal from poverty, prostitution, trafficking, and addiction.
In the last year alone, her community involvement has raised more than $1m for important social causes, including those related to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Born and raised in Ireland, Ms Whelan Prine is the eldest of six daughters. She served as business manager for Windmill Lane Studios in Dublin, where she met her husband John. They later married in Nashville, Tennessee, where together they raised their three sons.