Kevin O’Malley to move closer to Dublin after Senate appearance

New US Ambassador to Ireland Kevin O'Malley.

Kevin O’Malley will move a step closer to his new role as American ambassador to Ireland when he appears before a Senate committee on Tuesday.

The Missouri lawyer, a close friend of President Obama, is required to appear before the Senate to have his appointment verified.

He will appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Capitol Hill.

The Irish Times reports that O’Malley will attend the hearing, which will be chaired by Connecticut Democrat Chris Murphy.

The appearance moves O’Malley ever closer to taking up a role which has been vacant for more than 18 months.

Also scheduled to appear before the Senate committee on Tuesday are John Bass, the new ambassador to Turkey, and Jane Hartley, nominee for France.

O’Malley’s imminent appointment has surprised many in the Irish American community.

Well known as an Obama supporter and a political donor, the report says he is not a well-known figure, particularly on the east coast.

White House chief of staff Denis McDonough has described O’Malley as a ‘close personal friend of the president’ and a ‘leader in his field.’

He added: “The more people get to know the St Louis attorney, the more impressed they will be by him.”

The report also states that Obama administration is pressing Congress to accelerate the confirmation of ambassadors.

Republicans have been criticized for delaying the appointments process with 48 ambassadorial nominees awaiting Senate approval and 26 eligible to be confirmed by chamber.