|Former US Ambassador Dan Rooney and President Barack Obama
There will be no U.S. ambassador to Ireland in place until at least September say Washington sources who state that a couple of top names have been derailed because of background check issues.
It means that no U.S. ambassador will be in place for the visit of Barack Obama to Northern Ireland in June, where he will go to Belfast and attend a G8 summit in Fermanagh on the 17th and 18th.
It also means no ambassador for the trip to the Irish Republic by First Lady Michelle Obama.
“Even if the person were selected tomorrow there is no way they would get confirmed by the U.S. Senate the way they have been delaying every nomination there,” said the Washington source.
The Ambassador to Ireland has traditionally been chosen by St. Patrick’s Day as in the case of Dan Rooney, the Pittsburgh Steelers Chairman who was Obama’s first ambassador to Ireland.
It is believed that a couple of names of those under consideration were removed after the stiff background checks.
In addition, the continuing dispute over appointments by the Obama administration, with several prospective cabinet members having delayed hearings in the Senate, have contributed to the delay.
The lack of a U.S. Ambassador this summer means that major events such as the John F Kennedy 50th anniversary of his trip to Ireland will go off without the accredited U.S. representative.
It is possible that the next ambassador will not be in place until later in the year, closer to when Obama was re-elected in November 2012.