Joe Kennedy III appointed as special envoy to Northern Ireland

Joe Kennedy III appointed as special envoy to Northern Ireland

A MEMBER of the Kennedy political dynasty has been named as the US special envoy to Northern Ireland.

Joe Kennedy III, in his appointment, will become the first person to hold the role in two years.

Tweeting after the news was announced, he said it was an "incredible honour" to have been appointed to the role.

The former Democratic congressman is the grandson of assassinated presidential candidate Robert Kennedy.

Over the years, US special envoys to Northern Ireland have played key roles in peace building, with his role likely aiming to move forward on the current impasse in Northern Ireland over the Protocol.

US Secretary of State Anthony J Blinken confirmed the appointment on Monday.

He said Mr Kennedy 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".

He continued: "His role builds on the long-standing US commitment to supporting peace, prosperity, and stability in Northern Ireland and the peace dividends of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement.

"Joe has dedicated his career to public service, including eight years in the US House of Representatives, tenure as Massachusetts Assistant District Attorney, and service as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

"He will draw from his extensive experience to support economic growth in Northern Ireland and to deepen US engagement with all communities."

Secretary Blinken said US diplomats in Europe and Washington will continue to engage with political leaders on efforts to restore the Executive and to resolve differences on the Northern Ireland Protocol

"I look forward to Joe’s engagement and service with the people and leaders of Northern Ireland," he added.

Tánaiste Micheál Martin was among those to congratulate Kennedy on his appointment.

"Pleased to welcome Joe Kennedy as Special Envoy to Northern Ireland," he said. "Looking forward to working with him on the continued peace and prosperity of NI as we prepare to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement."

"I want to thank President Biden and his Administration for this appointment. It is a clear demonstration of the President’s direct engagement with Ireland as well as the enduring US commitment to supporting peace in, and building the prosperity of, Northern Ireland.

"Special Envoy Kennedy’s appointment comes as we prepare to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, an opportunity to look forward in the spirit of 10 April 1998 – with hopefully progress between the UK and EU feeding into new optimism.

"I look forward to working with Special Envoy Kennedy as he helps ensure everyone in Northern Ireland realise their full potential, best achieved through sustained investment in stability, in prosperity, and in the futures of the next generation of young people in Northern Ireland."

Deputy of Sinn Féin Michelle O'Neill similarly praised the appointment.

"The US remains a critical partner for peace. They are an important stakeholder whose support for the Good Friday Agreement is deeply valued," she said in a statement.

"This appointment puts renewed emphasis on the economic development of the north, and the benefits we can yield through dual access to both the EU single market and British market which uniquely positions our economy.

"Joe Kennedy has a strong record in promoting the interests of the north and I look forward to working with him in the time ahead. I believe he will bring very considerable expertise and experience to the task."