U.S. 14 Months without Ambassador to Ireland; Canada Finally Gets One after 8 Months

Monday, March 17, 2014
Bruce Heyman

A key diplomatic post has gone without a U.S. ambassador for upwards of more than a year, raising concerns among officials and others.


Ireland has not had an American ambassador for 14 months, not since Daniel Rooney, chairman of the Pittsburgh Steelers, left his post in December 2012. The span without an ambassador to Ireland is the longest by an administration since 1927.


Brian O’Dwyer, chairman of the Emerald Isle Immigration Center and a board member of Irish-American Democrats, called the delay “almost scandalous.”


“It shows an inexplicable indifference to Ireland and the Irish-American community,” he told The New York Times.


The fault lies squarely with President Barack Obama, who has not nominated a replacement. The White House offered no explanation for the delay, nor could it say when a nominee would be put forth.


One possible candidate is rumored to be Tom Carnahan, a wealthy St. Louis businessman and son of Democrat Mel Carnahan, who served as governor of Missouri until his death in a plane crash 14 years ago.


Officials in Canada also complained about the eight-month delay in their country getting a new U.S. ambassador.


But Obama was not to blame for this one. He nominated Bruce Heyman, a Chicago investment banker, to take over as the top envoy to Ottawa. Heyman’s nomination was approved without incident by the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. But his confirmation vote before the full Senate was delayed by partisan politics. Heyman was finally confirmed on March 12.


“It’s never good when you don’t have an ambassador, simply because it sends a bad signal,” Council on Foreign Relations president Richard N. Haass told the Times. “It’s often interpreted as a sign that the country is not a priority.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Absence of U.S. Envoy in Dublin Looms Over White House St. Patrick’s Day (by Mark Landler, New York Times)

End Delay over U.S. Ambassador to Canada, U.S. Senate Told (Canadian Press)

Ambassador to Canada: Who Is Bruce Heyman? (by Matt Bewig, AllGov)

Ambassador to Ireland: Who is Dan Rooney? (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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