US ambassador vows to try to enhance relationship with Ireland

New ambassador says Trump offered him foreign posting before presidential election

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and US ambassador to Ireland Edward F Crawford at the ambassador’s residence in the Phoenix Park in Dublin. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and US ambassador to Ireland Edward F Crawford at the ambassador’s residence in the Phoenix Park in Dublin. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

US ambassador to Ireland Edward Crawford has spoken of his pride at being chosen for the role and said he intended to do everything he could to enhance relations between the nations.

Speaking in front of a crowd that US chargé d’affairs Reese Smyth called “1,500 Irish friends”, Edward F Crawford (81) explained that US president Donald Trump had offered him an ambassador posting before he had even been elected.

Asked by Mr Trump what country he would prefer, Mr Crawford responded: “Ireland”. When it was suggested that he give Mr Trump three choices, Mr Crawford said these were “Ireland, Ireland, Ireland”.

Mr Crawford, a businessman from comes from Cleveland, Ohio, made his first public appearance as ambassador at an Independence Day garden party in the grounds of his residence in the Phoenix Park in Dublin. On a warm summer’s evening, he joked that he had brought the weather with him from the US.

“I had dreamed about serving my country. I was approached by someone you know the name of before he was even elected. I have known him for some time,” he said.

“I am going to do everything I can to enhance the relationship between America and Ireland – undeniably one of the strongest relationships. America was one of the first countries in the world to recognise Ireland.”

Confirmation process

He recalled the arduous 17-month process between being nominated by Mr Trump and his confirmation as ambassador and paid the tribute to Mr Smyth, who effectively served as ambassador during the lengthy hiatus between appointments.

Mr Crawford introduced his family on stage – his wife, Mary; his son, Matthew; his daughter-in-law, Deborah; and their three grandchildren – Colin, Catherine and Claire. Matthew described his father as a “strong, smart and caring leader” and “one of the most successful charismatic and passionate business leaders from America”.

His father’s story was “very Irish-American – a hardworking young man who started at the very bottom and then builds a big business one day at at time”.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar recalled that Mr Crawford’s parents had left Ireland in 1925 for the US and had passed through Ellis Island. The new ambassador’s mother, Kay, came from Co Cork.

“They made the American dream their own. Today I can only imagine what it would mean to them to see their son return to Ireland as United States ambassador – the fulfilment of another dream,” Mr Varadkar said.

He joked that Mr Crawford was not a week in the country and was already throwing the “best party of the summer”.

Mr Varadkar said Mr Trump had given him a copy of an order sent by Gen George Washington to his troops in 1780 giving them the next day off, which was St Patrick’s Day. Washington did so, having called the Irish a “brave and generous people”.

“We are two countries united by our shared heritage and our deep, abiding friendship,” Mr Varadkar said. “We are strong partners and in the years ahead we intend to work together trading and investing and creating employment on both sides of the Atlantic with almost as many people in America working for Irish-owned firms as there are Irish people working for American-owned firms.

“Over the centuries, Ireland has benefited so much from the courage and generosity of the American people. For that we are forever grateful.”