US Senate to vote on new Irish ambassador, Kevin O’Malley

Appointment brings to an end longest period US has been without Irish ambassador


The United States Senate is due to vote on the appointment of Missouri lawyer Kevin F O’Malley as ambassador to Ireland today.

President Obama’s nominee as American ambassador is scheduled to be voted on at about 5.30pm US time (10.30pm Irish time) and is expected to be confirmed in a “voice vote,” requiring only a handful of senators to be present. This suggests that his appointment is all but approved and his confirmation on the Senate floor a formality, which would allow him to take up his position in Dublin once approved.

Mr O’Malley’s confirmation is one of nine appointments made by the Obama administration coming before the Senate today. The others include the president’s nominee for ambassador to South Korea.

The appointment will bring to an end the longest period that the US has been without an ambassador in Ireland since formal diplomatic relations between the two countries commenced 90 years ago.

In June, President Obama nominated Mr O’Malley as Irish ambassador, a post left vacant for more than 18 months following the departure of Dan Rooney in December 2012.

Mr O’Malley enjoyed a smooth reception from the Senate foreign relations committee when he appeared before them in July answering questions about the state of the Irish economy and the Northern Ireland peace process, the two main issues he faces in his new role.

The committee unanimously approved Mr O’Malley, a long-time supporter of Mr Obama, at the end of that month sending his name forward to the floor of the Senate for today’s scheduled vote.

His appointment was held up by the Senate until after the August recess.

The Senate confirmed John Bass as the ambassador to Turkey. Mr Bass appeared before the Senate foreign relations committee on the same day as Mr O’Malley.