President Obama has sent the nomination of Dan Rooney, former Chairman of the Pittsburgh Steelers, to be Ambassador to Ireland to the Senate for confirmation.
His hearings will take place in the next few weeks, and if confirmed as expected, he will be in Ireland by July 4th.
Rooney is a very popular figure in Irish America, and will have little difficulty being approved, according to Senate insiders.
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.
In 1975 Rooney and then Heinz CEO Tony O’Reilly founded the American Ireland Fund, an organization that has raised millions of dollars for peace and education projects in Ireland.
His legacy can be witnessed in a Steelers-themed bar in an old linen mill in one of the roughest parts of Belfast.
When Obama made the announcement on St. Patrick's Day, he called Rooney “an unwavering supporter of Irish peace, culture and education."
Obama said at the time that Rooney and his new Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “will ensure America's continued close and unique partnership with Ireland in the years ahead.”
Rooney's father, Arthur J. Rooney, founded the Steelers in 1933. The son took over the presidency of the team in 1975. The team has won more Super Bowl titles than any others, and are the current National Football League champions, having won the title in February of this year.
The "Rooney Rule," which requires any team with a head coaching vacancy to interview at least one minority candidate, was developed by an NFL committee Rooney chaired. Rooney has also participated in labor negotiations between the league and players.