Senator Bob Casey [D-P.A.] told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Wednesday that former Pittsburgh Steelers Chairman Dan Rooney will bring “a lifetime of work on behalf of strengthening the U.S.-Ireland partnership,” and that he was proud to announce his “whole-hearted endorsement” for Rooney as the next U.S. ambassador to Ireland.
Casey made the remarks while introducing Rooney to the Committee hearing on his nomination to be the next U.S. ambassador to take up residence at the Phoenix Park in Dublin.
“I know that Dan’s exceptional lifetime accomplishments, as well as his abiding interest in both the American and Irish people make him an ideal nominee to serve as America’s envoy to the Emerald Isle,” said Senator Casey.
“Despite all that experience and ability, he’s a man of uncommon humility and decency."
The 76-year-old Rooney, co-founder of the American Ireland Fund, endorsed Obama at a key point in the nomination process, despite the fact that he was a self-described conservative Republican. He said he was inspired after he saw Obama speak on television.
He offered major support to Obama in the key state of Pennsylvania during the campaign, and even brought him to a Steelers game. The day the nomination was announced, Obama called Rooney an “unwavering supporter of Irish peace, culture and education.”
In 1975 Rooney and then Heinz CEO Tony O’Reilly founded the American Ireland Fund, an organization that has raised over $300 million for peace and education projects in Ireland.
Arthur J. Rooney founded the Steelers in 1933 and Dan took over the presidency from his father in 1975. The Steelers have been run by Rooneys since its foundation, and the team has won more Super Bowl titles than any other franchise. They are the current National Football League champions, having won the title in February of this year.