It has been 16 months – that’s close to 500 days, since Dan Rooney departed the post in December 2012, and while there have been promises and soothing noises, the fact remains that the embassy residence in Dublin’s Phoenix Park is still empty.
Amazingly, the administration seems to consider that it’s no big deal in their scheme of things – or is there just no one in the White House who gives a damn?
It certainly seems that way. No other friendly nation that we know of is being treated like this.
Why is this important?
It states something profound about the lack of any Irish priority in the Obama White House. Can you imagine the Israeli or British Embassy being vacant for this long? Not on your life.
One can accept that one candidate may have failed a background check, but now there are stories of three people having done so.
That is plainly absurd. The Irish American population numbers 40 million. It should be possible to find amongst all those millions someone with an unblemished background who can be named ambassador.
It also speaks to the low priority of Ireland in the White House despite all the St. Patrick’s Day good-humored guff.
Assurances were made this March when Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny was in town that an appointment was imminent. None has been made.
One has who has been forthright in speaking out about the matter is civil rights lawyer Brian O’Dwyer a Democratic Party stalwart and chairman of the Emerald Isle Immigration Center in New York.
Speaking to Sean O’Rourke on RTE Radio this week, O’Dwyer said, “There’s a tremendous sense of disappointment and anger in the Irish American community.
“There is a sense that the community has been abandoned by the Obama administration. There’s bewilderment to the length of time it is taking. So with all of these emotions coming together the greatest sense for now is anger.
“There is no good explanation for this. There is a seeming indifference to the Irish American community and Irish America and Ireland, which is surprising given the amount of support that Obama has been given over the years during the primaries and the election cycle.”
He added, “There are a number of issues going on between Ireland and the United States from immigration and taxation right down to commerce and business, all of which are vital to America and Ireland.
“It’s extraordinarily difficult and disappointing at this point in time to have no replacement to speak in America on this issues.”
Adding in the irony O’Dwyer noted, “There are 44 million Irish Americans in the United States, I suspect at least one would be more than qualified.”
Indeed, we could not have said it better ourselves. It is past time that this position was filled and that this increasingly blatant overlooking of an Irish American priority was remedied.
Over to you Mr. Obama.