Friday 20 April 2018

Experienced lawyer to be next US ambassador to Ireland

Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Taoiseach Enda Kenny

Niall O'Connor in San Francisco

An experienced lawyer with links to Co Mayo has been appointed the next US ambassador to Ireland. understands that Kevin O'Malley will be unveiled as the next ambassador later today.

The St Louis-based attorney will succeed Dan Rooney, the owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers who retired as ambassador in December 2012.

Mr O'Malley, a devout Catholic, has more than 30 years experience in the legal profession. His grandfather is from Co Mayo.

The position of US ambassador to Ireland has lay vacant for 17 months - an issue that was raised by Taoiseach Enda Kenny during discussions with US President Barack Obama during his visit to Washington in March.

It will be up to the White House to formally announce Mr O'Malley as the new ambassador. A statement is expected to be released later today.

Mr Kenny today delivered a rousing speech at an event attended by members of the Irish community in San Francisco.

The Taoiseach urged the US authorities to reform immigration rules in order to take into account the 50,000 non-documented Irish.

He said he will fight for immigration reform measures "at the highest political level" which take into the account the 50,000 undocumented members of the Irish Disapora.

The US immigration system is not working properly, Mr Kenny said, and its flaws are having a major impact on Irish immigrants and their families.

The Taoiseach was speaking at an event in San Francisco which kicked off his three day trade mission to the West Coast.

He will today meet business leaders at a range of technical giants which have made significant investments in Ireland.

"We are delighted to see Dublin connected to Silicon Valley again with the new direct air route reinstated between Dublin and San Francisco in April of this year. This should have a further positive impact on trade, investment and tourism linkages," Mr Kenny said.

Addressing an audience at the United Irish Cultural Centre in San Francisco, Mr Kenny said the contribution by Irish to the development of the city cannot be understated.

"The Irish helped to build the roads and the railways; the dams and the water supply; they laid out the streets and built the buildings that line them. In so many ways San Francisco is built on the hard work of Irish immigrants and their children," he said.

Mr Kenny used his speech to express concern about the treatment of undocumented Irish citizens.

He said he raised the matter during his St Patrick's Day visit to the US but that he is cautious as to whether short term solutions can be found.

"Immigration reform offers an opportunity to solve a problem of enormous personal significance to an enormous number of people," Mr Kenny said.

"And it offers economic opportunity as well. American entrepreneurship, American innovation, American success is built on the contribution of immigrants," he added.

Mr Kenny told the audience that Ireland has made steady economic progress over the past twelve months, but that youth employment in particular remains too high.

Irish Independent

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