Boston politician named as next US Ambassador to Ireland

Biden administration nominates representative who campaigned for president

The US Ambassador’s residence at the the Phoenix park. File photograph: Alan Betson

The US Ambassador’s residence at the the Phoenix park. File photograph: Alan Betson

 

Massachusetts representative Claire Cronin has been named as the next US ambassador to Ireland by US president Joe Biden.

Ms Cronin was an early supporter of Mr Biden when he announced his run for the office, and helped fundraise for the former vice-president in the early days of the campaign.

A lawyer by training, she is a senior Democratic lawmaker in the Massachusetts state house and was the first female majority leader of the state legislature in Massachusetts history.

She represents the Easton district, south of Boston, and is married to Ray Cronin. The couple have two children.

Announcing the nomination, the White House outlined Ms Cronin’s political experience in the legislature of Massachusetts, in particular her position as chair of the judiciary committee, where she oversaw significant pieces of legislation including major criminal justice and police reform. She has also served as a mediator since 2003.

Massachusetts representative Clare Cronin
Massachusetts representative Clare Cronin

The position of Irish ambassador has been vacant since Ohio businessman Ed Crawford vacated the role following president Donald Trump’s election loss in November.

The Trump supporter was appointed in June 2019, more than two years after Mr Trump’s election victory.

While Mr Biden has faced some criticism for leaving the most senior diplomatic posts vacant in capital cities across the world since his inauguration, he has announced a number of appointments in the last week.

Like all ambassadorial appointments, Ms Cronin must be approved by the Senate foreign relations committee before taking up her post in Dublin.

Ms Cronin campaigned heavily for Mr Biden in 2020, and formally announced the state’s delegate votes during the Democratic National Convention last year.

It is understood that there was intense competition for the position, with several people informally putting themselves forward for consideration.

Massachusetts Congressman Richard Neal, who co-chairs the Friends of Ireland caucus on Capitol Hill welcomed the announcement.

“I am delighted that State Representative Claire Cronin has been nominated by president Biden to be the next United States Ambassador to Ireland. She made history by being the first woman to serve as Majority Leader in the Massachusetts Legislature, and once confirmed by the Senate, will play a significant in role in helping to strengthen the bonds between the United States and Ireland,” he said.

Despite the nomination of an Irish ambassador, no decision has yet been made on the appointment of a Special Envoy to Northern Ireland, a position that was last held by former Trump chief-of-staff Mick Mulvaney.

It is understood that the governments in Dublin and London would welcome the appointment of an envoy specifically dedicated to Northern Ireland given the current political unrest in the North.

Among the other ambassadorial nominees announced on Wednesday was Cindy McCain, the wife of the late Republican senator John Mc Cain who has been nominated as the US representative to the UN Agencies for Food and Agriculture.

In addition, Mr Biden announced the appointment of Irish-born Fiona Whelan Prine to the National Council on the Arts. Ms Whelan Prine is the widow of the singer-songwriter John Prine.