The United States Ambassador to Ireland Kevin O’Malley will have to leave his post before the presidential inauguration on January 20, as President-elect Donald Trump’s administration-in-waiting has demanded all non-career ambassadors depart immediately.
The move issued “without exceptions,” according to a terse State Department release, will leave many embassies, including Ireland, unfilled for an unknown time until the US Senate holds hearings on and approves appointees for every position. Ambassadorships to Britain and Germany will also be left unfilled by the move.
The move is seen as vindictive by some as many ambassadors have school-going children, some have sick spouses and many will be severely inconvenienced by the abrupt change.
Kevin O’Malley (69) has been in the Irish job since June 5, 2014 and the St. Louis attorney was expected to stay at least through the Saint Patrick's Day period, which is when an incoming ambassador to Ireland is usually announced.
The next US Ambassador to Ireland is expected to be philanthropist and businessman Brian Burns. Burns and his wife, Eileen, have been close friends of the President-elect through the Palm Beach and Mar-A-Lago connection. He has not been through any vetting to date.
The New York Times reported that a senior Trump official denied there was any malice in the move but wanted to ensure a hard deadline was met.
However, critics point out that Trump’s own wife Melania will not move to Washington for at least six months, not wishing to disturb the schooling of her son Baron in New York.
Ronald Neumann, a career Foreign Service officer who held ambassadorships in Algeria, Bahrain and Afghanistan, said, “I don’t recollect there was ever a guillotine in January where it was just, 'Everybody out of the pool immediately.'” W. Robert Pearson, a former ambassador to Turkey, said the rule was “quite extraordinary,” and that ambassadors were usually given far more time to depart.