Joe Kennedy, Grandson of RFK, Named US Ambassador to Northern Ireland

Joe Kennedy (L) and Robert F. Kennedy (R) (Photos U.S. House Office of Photography and Wikipedia)
Joe Kennedy (L) and Robert F. Kennedy (R) (Photos U.S. House Office of Photography and Wikipedia)

Michael Dorgan Twitter thumbnailDec. 20, 2022 By Michael Dorgan

Joseph Kennedy, a former Congressman from Massachusetts and Grandson of Robert F. Kennedy, (RFK) has been confirmed as the next US Special Envoy to Northern Ireland.

Kennedy, 42, will focus on economic development and closer ties between Northern Ireland and the U.S. — and not political issues such as Brexit or the Northern Ireland Protocol, according to the BBC.

The US State Department said Kennedy would concentrate on advancing economic development and investment opportunities in Northern Ireland.”

Kennedy takes over a role that has been vacant since Mick Mulvaney resigned nearly two years ago. Joseph Kennedy is the grandson of former US Attorney General Robert F Kennedy who was assasinated in 1968.

Kennedy tweeted that the appointment was “an incredible honor”.

“Look forward to working with the Biden administration to reaffirm US commitment to Northern Ireland and to promote economic prosperity and opportunity for all its people,” he wrote.

US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, said the role will “build on the longstanding US commitment to supporting peace, prosperity, and stability in Northern Ireland.”

“In this capacity, he will focus on advancing economic development and investment opportunities in Northern Ireland to the benefit of all communities as well as strengthening people-to-people ties between the United States and Northern Ireland,” Blinken said.

Kennedy’s appointment comes at a moment of elevated tensions between Washington and London over the implementation of the Northern Ireland protocol that dictates post-Brexit trade regulations in the UK province.

It also 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.

Meanwhile, the Ancient Order of Hibernians welcomed the announcement. The AOH is the largest Irish American organization in the United States.

“The President has clearly shown the importance that the administration places on the role of the U.S. Special Envoy, sending a clear message of the ongoing U.S. commitment to the peace and prosperity of the community of Northern Ireland,” AOH National President Daniel J. O’Connell said in a statement.

“We note that it was the Congressman’s father, Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy II, who introduced H.Con.Res.49 in 1993 calling for the establishment of a Special Envoy to Northern Ireland.

“We thank President Biden for appointing a highly qualified candidate and sending a clear message on U.S. interest in Northern Ireland and its continuing progress to lasting peace with justice.

“As we welcome the appointment of Congressman Kennedy, we cannot help but also note with sad amusement the attempts by the media, specifically the British Government-controlled BBC and U.S. media sources that uncritically parrot them, to ring-fence his role as special envoy. These reports take great pains to note that Congressman Kennedy will be appointed as an “economic envoy” and conclude that this confines the focus of the position to “economic development and closer ties, and not political issues such as Brexit or the Northern Ireland Protocol.” This appears to be a transparent and disingenuous attempt by the British government-sponsored BBC to create a no-go zone of discussion that should trouble anyone who values diplomacy’s power to solve complex issues. We would remind the BBC, and those that uncritically quote them, that the original title of Senator Mitchell, the first special envoy who helped facilitate the landmark Good Friday Agreement, was “Special Advisor to the President and Secretary of State for Economic Initiatives in Ireland.”

“Sadly, some in Britain appear not to have learned the lessons of Brexit and the problems it has spawned of the folly in believing that economics can exist independently of history, political science, and social justice.

“We again thank President Biden for reconfirming America’s commitment to peace, justice, and prosperity in Northern Ireland and wish Congressman Kennedy success in finding fruitful engagement amongst all members of the Northern Ireland community.

“As we approach the 25th Anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, we hope Special Envoy Kennedy can help complete the historic work begun by Senator Mitchell.”