Joe Kennedy III named as US economic envoy to Northern Ireland

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Joe Kennedy III, the 42-year-old scion of one of America’s most famous political families, has agreed to serve as Northern Ireland’s special envoy for economic affairs, the US State Department announced Monday.

The former Massachusetts congressman and grandson of US Attorney General Robert F Kennedy replaces Mick Mulvaney, a former White House chief of staff under Donald Trump who resigned from his position last year.

Related: Edward Markey defeats Joe Kennedy in the Massachusetts Democratic primary

“In this capacity, he will focus on promoting economic development and investment opportunities in Northern Ireland for the benefit of all communities, and on strengthening interpersonal ties between the United States and Northern Ireland,” said the US Secretary of State. Business Antony. Blinken said in a statement.

“His role builds on the US’s longstanding commitment to supporting peace, prosperity and stability in Northern Ireland.”

Kennedy’s appointment comes at a time of heightened tensions between Washington and London over the implementation of the Northern Ireland protocol dictating post-Brexit trade rules in the British province, and it comes ahead of the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement next year. which aimed to end nearly 30 years of political violence in Northern Ireland known as The Troubles.

Kennedy called calling his appointment “an incredible honor” and said he looks forward to helping Joe Biden’s White House “reaffirm America’s commitment to Northern Ireland and promote economic prosperity and opportunity for all its people.”

Kennedy graduated from Stanford University before joining the US Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic. He received a law degree from Harvard Law School, where he studied under the now U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren.

He became a U.S. Congressman in 2012 and in 2018 was selected to provide a rebuttal to Trump’s State of the Union address — an outing that made Republicans an easy target when he showed up with copious amounts of lip balm.

In a subsequent TV appearance, he joked that he had “decided to go a little light on the ChapStick this morning… which is probably a wise choice”.

Biden has been lobbying for a deal between London and Brussels on trade to be completed before the anniversary of Good Friday arrives. Although the appointment falls under the umbrella of a trade mandate, there has been a broadcast to the region in various forms since Senator George Mitchell was appointed by President Bill Clinton as US Special Envoy to Northern Ireland to help negotiate the Good Friday Agreement. pact.

The US Ambassador to Ireland, Claire Cronintweeted Monday after Kennedy’s new role was announced that he was “smart, hardworking and the perfect person for the job.”

Kennedy has not held political office since last year. In 2019, he unsuccessfully challenged Democratic Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts in what was described as an intra-party battle that exposed divisions on the American political left.

Kennedy, who had described the contest as a “fight of our lives”, had been up against an incumbent senator who enjoyed the support of the party’s progressive wing but was largely unable to articulate a compelling reason for his candidacy other than his political background. in the state.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren said Kennedy was “a really great person” but ultimately did not change support from Markey. Kennedy’s loss marked the first time a member of his family had lost a statewide election.

His appointment as envoy to Northern Ireland makes him the third member of the Kennedy family to serve in a diplomatic post under Biden.

Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of former President John F. Kennedy, is Biden’s ambassador to Australia. Victoria Kennedy, the widow of the late Senator Ted Kennedy, is Ambassador to Austria.

Given his Irish-American family lineage, Kennedy’s nomination has strong political overtones despite his economic focus.

Former Massachusetts Democratic Party chairman Philip Johnston told the Boston Globe that Kennedy’s selection underlined Northern Ireland’s importance to the Biden administration.

“The Kennedy family has been involved with Ireland forever and there is no better collaborator and partner than Joe Kennedy,” Johnston said. “He’s a perfect choice for this role.”

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