Taoiseach Enda Kenny and President Barack Obama have completed the annual St. Patrick’s holiday meeting at the White House.
Obama said he was “disappointed” that all-party talks in Northern Ireland failed to reach agreement at the end of last year. Kenny said the two leaders privately addressed immigration reform and the situation in Ukraine.
Here’s the full transcript of their public remarks.
Kenny and Obama. White House photo.
Is it possible that U.S. President Barack Obama will allow a second St. Patrick’s Day to come and go without naming an ambassador to Ireland?
The diplomatic post has been open been since mid December 2012, when Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney stepped down after three and a half years. Several names have been floated since then for the job, but still no appointment. And the clock is ticking up to March 17.
Obama and Rooney. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette image.
Brian O’Dwyer, head of the Emerald Isle Immigration Center and a Democratic Party activist, said Obama’s failure to appoint an ambassador was “an absolute disgrace and a real and total disrespect to the Irish American community.” Irish Central‘s Niall O’Down reported the comments in his Periscope column of October 17, 2012. The column also quoted Stella O’Leary, founder of Irish-American Democrats (O’Dwyer is on the board): “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.
Stuart Dwyer assumed the ambassador’s duties as Chargés d’affaires ad interim at the U.S. Embassy in Dublin on September 5, 2013. That’s the same day that Anne Anderson was appointed by the Irish government as Ambassador to the United States, the first woman in the role.
The Obamas flank Anne Anderson. Irish Central image.
A lot of media coverage came rolling out of Northern Ireland as U.S. President Barack Obama and other leaders gathered for the G8 summit June 17-18. First Lady Michelle Obama and her two daughters also visited the Republic of Ireland.
There were plenty of security concerns before the summit. Who could imagine such an international gathering in Northern Ireland in past decades? While the two-day event was a costly inconvenience to residents of nearby Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, there was no violence.
A bomb was found near the Lough Erne resort hosting the summit, but it turned out to be a remnant from a World War II mortar range.
Links to some of the best Ireland- and Northern Ireland-related stories follow below:
- “Northern Ireland has languished out of the headlines and a gradual erosion of the peace process has taken place,” writes Irish Central founder Niall O’Dowd. “That is why the visit of President Obama is so vital.”
- Michelle Obama, Bono and families lunch at Dalkey pub.
- Significant progress has been made in the 15 years since the U.S.-brokered Good Friday Accords, including a Catholic-Protestant government and the disarmament of the IRA and outlawed Protestant groups responsible for most of the 3,700 death toll. But tearing down Belfast’s nearly 100 “peace lines” — barricades of brick, steel and barbed wire that divide neighborhoods, roads and even one Belfast playground — is still seen by many as too dangerous. Obama cited that playground in his speech, lauding an activist whose work led to the opening of a pedestrian gate in the fence.
- Obama: “If there’s one thing on which Democrats and Republicans in America wholeheartedly agree, it’s that we strongly support a peaceful and prosperous Northern Ireland. … We will keep working closely with leaders in Stormont, and Dublin, and Westminster to support your political progress.”
- The Irish Times reports U.S. President Barack Obama to press for renewed efforts to end community division in the north.
- Great headline on security-related story from the BBC: Lock down on Lough Erne.
President Barack Obama has nominated Dublin-born Samantha Power to serve as the United State’s ambassador to the United Nations. His pick is paired with the nomination of current U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice as National Security Adviser.
Both women are already drawing heat from the American right wing. Her nomination requires U.S. Senate confirmation.
POWER, AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais
I like Power for two more reasons in addition to her Irish roots.
First, she worked as a journalist and won a Pulitzer Prize in 2002 for her book on U.S. foreign policy response to genocide. Second, her first stop in America at age nine in 1979 was to my hometown of Pittsburgh. (I was 20, attending the University of Pittsburgh.)
According to a Boston Globe story, Power recalled arriving in America wearing a red, white, and blue shirt and quickly trying to stifle her Irish accent. “For the next three months, I came home from school every day… and I sat in front of mirrors for hours straining to drop my brogue so that I, too, could quickly speak and be American,” she said.
More U.S. – Ireland – Northern Ireland politics
As reported last month by Irish Central, Obama isn’t expected to name a new U.S. Ambassador to Ireland until at least September. The pick is traditionally made around St. Patrick’s Day.
Before then, Obama is to visit Belfast and Fermanagh in Northern Ireland on June 17-18 for the G-8 summit.