Leading Irish Democratic pol slams Obama on no envoy

Rep. Joseph Crowley rebukes lack of US representation in Ireland given heightened tensions in Northern Ireland.

Joe Crowley, a leading Democrat and Irish American member of Congress, has slammed the Obama administration over the 500-day delay on assigning a new US Ambassador to Ireland, especially given the growing tensions in Northern Ireland. Crowley is the fourth ranking Democrat in the House.

Crowley, a native of Woodside, Queens, New York, is the son of an Irish American father and mother from County Armagh.

Speaking on the lack of urgency on replacing the US Ambassador Crowley said “I don’t really understand why it’s taken this long. It’s not for a lack of candidates, I’m sure.”

He continued “I know that the president has a great deal on his plate, but I do think that given the most recent events, we need to have a strong presence in Ireland and to be there to bolster the peace process to make sure it stays on track.”

It has now been over 500 days since Dan Rooney, the Pittsburgh Steelers owner, stepped down from the position of US Ambassador to Ireland. Earlier this week it was suggested that Democratic fundraiser Mary Lang Sollinger may be in line for the position however White House officials deny this.

When asked when a new US Ambassador would be assigned the official said they were “not going to speculate on timing.”

Irish-American business and political leaders are becoming “frustrated” according to BuzzFeed’s reports. They claim the lapse in time shows a lack of interest in the situation in Ireland.

Unionist and nationalist groups have sparred over the implementation of the Good Friday Accord. Over Christmas 2013 and New Years Former US diplomat Dr Richard Haass and his associate Dr Meghan O'Sullivan failed in attempts to reach an all-party agreement about Northern Ireland’s past, parades, flags and emblems.

Tensions grew earlier this month when Sinn Fein’s President Gerry Adams was taken in for question over the 1972 kidnapping and killing of a mother-of-10 Jean McConville, who is believed to be one of the IRA’s “Disappeared”. Adams was taken in for questioning by the Police Service in Northern Ireland (PSNI) following the success in gaining access to interviews from the Boston College Project, oral history of the Troubles, which alleged include incriminating testimonies.

Adams is set to travel to Washington in late May to brief political leaders in the US and at the State Department on his concerns about the peace process, which he said is "facing some turbulence."

Read more: Gerry Adams will have a lot to talk about in Washington