December 20, 2022
Joe Kennedy III—the 42-year-old scion of one of America’s most famous political families—has agreed to serve as the special envoy to Northern Ireland for economic affairs, the U.S. State Department announced on Monday, December 19, according to a report by The Guardian.
The former Massachusetts congressman and grandson of U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy (who served from 1961 to 1964) is replacing Mick Mulvaney, a former White House chief of staff under Donald Trump, who stepped down from the role last year.
“In this capacity, he 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,” the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.
“His role builds on the longstanding U.S. commitment to supporting peace, prosperity, and stability in Northern Ireland.”
Kennedy’s appointment comes at a moment of elevated tensions between Washington and London over the implementation of the Northern Ireland protocol that dictates post-Brexit trade regulations in the U.K. province—and it comes ahead of the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement next year, an agreement that aimed to end nearly 30 years of political violence in Northern Ireland known as The Troubles.
Kennedy called his appointment “an incredible honor” and said he looked forward to helping the Joe Biden White House “reaffirm US commitment to Northern Ireland and to promote economic prosperity and opportunity for all its people”.
His appointment as envoy to Northern Ireland makes him the third Kennedy family member to serve in a diplomatic post under Biden. Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of former president John F. Kennedy, is Biden’s ambassador to Australia. Victoria Kennedy, the widow of the late senator Ted Kennedy, is ambassador to Austria.
Given his Irish American family’s lineage, Kennedy’s appointment has strong political overtones despite its economic focus.
Research contact: @guardian