|President Barack Obama and former Ambassador to Ireland Dan Rooney
The lack of a U.S. Ambassador to Ireland since December 2012 has been bitterly criticized by leaders in the Irish American community.
“In my opinion it is an absolute disgrace and a real and total disrespect to the Irish American community,” said prominent New York lawyer Brian O’Dwyer, head of the Emerald Isle Immigration Center, and a long-time Democratic party activist.
“This is an insult to those many Irish Americans who were so much in support of Barack Obama and now have every reason to feel betrayed.”
The head of Irish American Democrats, Stella O’Leary, has also called for the immediate appointment of the U.S. Ambassador to Ireland pointing out that the job has been left vacant far too long.
Since Dan Rooney’s departure last December 14 the job has not been filled and Ireland is now among just a handful of countries out of almost 200 embassies who do not have a serving U.S. Ambassador. From the time of an announcement to hearing and approval it could well be March 2014 before the person is officially appointed.
“It’s very puzzling that we do not have an ambassador, O’Leary, a powerful Irish American power broker in Washington, stated. “There is no shortage of qualified Irish Americans for the job."
“There has been no communication, no reason given for the delay and this has been to the severe disadvantage of Irish America and Ireland,” she said.
“On issues such as business, trade, immigration reform it is very important that an ambassador is in place," she said. “I strongly believe this needs to be a priority for the State Department and the administration.”
America has ambassadors in close to 200 countries but Ireland, along with Belarus, Bolivia, Comoros, Lesotho and Romania, is one of the few vacant ones, according to a State Department website.
It is believed that former Missouri Congressman Russ Carnaghan, 55, was the first choice of the administration but that he withdrew. Carnaghan had lost a primary election in 2012 when he was redistricted.
Many names have been floated, most notably Washington attorney Mark Tuohey and his brother-in-law Bill Daley, who recently pulled out of a governor's race in Illinois. However, inter party tensions between some Obama backers and the Daley family are said to have caused major problems.
When will we see an Ambassador? That remains a guessing game at this point.