US ambassador’s farewell a love letter to Obama

Obama ‘a tremendous role model’, Kevin O’Malley tells Dublin audience

Outgoing US ambassador to Ireland Kevin O’Malley. Photograph: Alan Betson

Outgoing US ambassador to Ireland Kevin O’Malley. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

Around the time Donald Trump was being inaugurated as President of the United States, its outgoing ambassador to Ireland, Kevin O’Malley, was on a flight home following a 27-month mission here.

On Tuesday night, the St Louis, Missouri native, who can trace his roots to Westport in Co Mayo, was presenting awards at a dinner hosted by the Ireland United States Alumni Association (IUSA) at the Westbury Hotel in Dublin.

In his final public engagement as ambassador, O’Malley spent 29 minutes regaling diners about his love for Barack Obama, and why he believes American investment into Ireland will continue over the next four years.

On Obama, O’Malley said: “I happen to love him. When Barack Obama took office . . . our country was headed for a depression. We were bleeding about 785,000 jobs a month. Eight years later, this administration has created 15.6 million jobs. We are at an unemployment rate of 4.6 per cent, which is considered by all of us to be full employment.

“He turned out to be, in my estimation, a tremendous role model. You never saw him lose his temper, utter a mean word, or act in a way other than as a dignified world leader.”

O’Malley repeated how Obama had told him in the White House last week that he would return to Ireland. “I think he’ll be coming sometime this year,” he said.

US-Ireland relationship

The former ambassador also noted how the US-Ireland economic relationship was valued at about $590 billion, with 140,000 people working here for American multinationals.

“I know that everyone is concerned that the change in the American tax code is going to result in the American multinationals leaving,” he said. “That’s not going to happen. Our corporate tax rate is much higher than yours but the secret is that nobody ever pays it [the full rate] because of our system of deductions.

“We’re here and doing so well for the reasons you’ve all heard but I’m not sure you really believe. That is, in America we only speak English. Your schools pour out talented and dedicated people who we love to associate with. You’re in the EU and you use the euro, so we only have to translate the money once.

“But the real reason . . . is we simply get one another. It’s no more complicated than that. We have so much shared history, so much shared culture and so much shared DNA. Long may that continue.”

Let’s hope he’s right although we shouldn’t be complacent given President Trump’s “America First” strategy.

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