Ambassador Dan Rooney, (79), will step down from his position in Ireland and will return to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2012, his son Art Rooney told the Pittsburgh media in an interview today.

His departure could well lead to a new ambassador in Ireland before the end of the Obama presidency. The announcement may come around St.Patrick’s Day.

Art Rooney II is president of the Pittsburgh Steelers and was addressing team issues at the end of the season. He did not specify what role his father would have with the football team.

Dan Rooney played a key role in President Obama’s election race in 2008, campaigning heavily with him throughout Pennsylvania, which will be a key state again in this election
Read More:

Dan Rooney warns Irish government not to cut corporation tax rate

Rooney backs Dublin’s bid to stage NFL game after delegation’s Croke Park visit

Massive pub crawls set to replace canceled Hoboken St. Patrick’s Day parade - VIDEO


Rooney has suffered some health problems in Ireland, where he has been ambassador since 2009. He had back surgery in the US on one of his trips back home.

Obama was said to be seeking to have Rooney back in time to help with his re-election given the impact he had the last time.The Catholic vote will be a key one in the upcoming election and a vital swing vote.

The contest for a new Irish ambassador in the Obama term  will be interesting. Washington attorney Mark Tuohey, brother in law of former White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley has often been mentioned, as has Daley’s brother, former Chicago mayor Richard Daley.