The United States has been without an ambassador to Ireland for over 16 months, the longest period the country has gone without one since 1927.
Now there are moves afoot among a group of Irish American politicians from both parties to approach the White House and demand action, IrishCentral has learned.
Dan Rooney was the last of 23 US ambassadors to have served in Dublin. He stood down in December 2012. Rooney is an owner and chairman of the Pittsburgh Steelers and a Barack Obama supporter.
The issue was raised on Irish national radio on Monday by civil rights lawyer Brian O’Dwyer, a Democratic Party stalwart and chairman of the Emerald Isle Immigration Center.
Speaking on RTE’s ‘Today with Sean O'Rourke’ O’Dwyer said, “There’s a tremendous sense of disappointment and anger in the Irish American community.
“There is a sense that the community has been abandoned by the Obama administration. There’s bewilderment at the length of time it is taking.
“So with all of these emotions coming together the greatest sense for now is anger.”
When pushed as to what the reason could be for such a delay O’Dwyer responded, “There is no good explanation for this. There is, seemingly, an indifference to the Irish American community and Irish America and Ireland, which is surprising given the amount of support that Obama has been given over the years, during the primaries and the election cycle.”
The American Ambassador role is the link between the US and Ireland he said.
He added, “There are a number of issues going on between Ireland and the United States from immigration and taxation right down to commerce and business, all of which are vital to America and Ireland.”
“It’s extraordinarily difficult and disappointing at this point in time to have no replacement to speak in America on these issues.”
RTE's O’Rourke asked if there was not a suitable candidate for the position within the Irish American community and O’Dwyer replied, “There are 44 million Irish Americans in the United States, I suspect at least one would be more than qualified.”
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 IrishCentral 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 O’Leary.
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