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St. Louis attorney Kevin O’Malley chosen as US Ambassador to Ireland. Surprise choice with few obvious ties to Ireland,

How was new US Ambassador Kevin O’Malley chosen?

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St. Louis attorney Kevin O’Malley chosen as US Ambassador to Ireland. Surprise choice with few obvious ties to Ireland,

I don’t know the new Ambassador designate to Ireland Kevin O’Malley and he seems a thoroughly upright and decent man who friends describe in glowing terms as a great attorney, committed Catholic, good family man.

But does that mean he should be nominated as ambassador to Ireland?

His lack of Irish connections are a major surprise. There was a unanimous chorus of "Who?" when the name was finally released which was telling in itself.

The St. Louis malpractice attorney was not even a huge contributor to Obama as it turned out, though a major figure in local Democratic politics,

The main explanation given by political experts was that he was pushed by the Carnahan family, the powerful clan that has dominated the Democratic Party in many respects in Missouri.

Two Carnahans, Tom and Russ, had been named in media reports as possible ambassadors to Ireland, speculation was rife they proved too controversial to be nominated.

The talk is that O’Malley was nominated in turn to deliver on some kind of election promise.

That may well be so, but Obama lost Missouri handily in the last presidential election and hardly owed any favors there.

It was not even clear if O’Malley knew Obama all that well, though his attendance at the exclusive State Dinner for French President Francois Hollande bespoke some familiarity.

It had been 18 months since the previous ambassador Dan Rooney had departed and there had been many false starts with candidates promised only for it all to fade away in the ether.

Having O’Malley in Dublin is important and he would not be the first envoy to be relatively unknown who turned out to be a success if he does achieve that.

Under George W. Bush, neither Illinois businessman Jim Kenny or Connecticut businessman Tom Foley were widely known yet both proved excellent choices. O’Malley could well prove similar.

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