At the same time, the Massachusetts business executive has ended his silence over his resignation and has admitted “frustrations” with the Dublin posting.
Egan, who remains Washington’s accredited envoy to Ireland until a replacement is found, submitted his resignation to the Bush administration just before Christmas. His decision to quit came after only 15 months on the job.
After remaining silent on his resignation for a couple of weeks, Egan found it necessary to defend his tenure in a letter to the Providence Journal newspaper.
The paper, in a recent editorial headed “Respecting Ireland,” described Egan’s resignation as a “double-barreled” failure for the Bush administration and Egan himself as a “poor choice to begin with.”
Egan, the editorial stated, “was simply picked because he is an Irish-American who got rich and gave a lot of money to Republicans.”
The editorial added that the rewarding of big donors was the “ancient practice” of both major parties but that the problem with this was now that, in the context of America’s lone super power status, there was no longer such thing as a “little ambassadorship.”
“In each capital,” the editorial said, “an able, experienced ambassador is taken as a sign of American respect; someone named merely he or she is a moneybags is a major insult.”
The editorial, however, did express some sympathy for Egan and acknowledged that he might have been somewhat hamstrung by forces outside his control.
“Ironically, it stated, “Mr. Egan’s resignation might have been motivated by his taking his appointment seriously. The can-do businessman wanted to play a central role in furthering Irish-American economic cooperation, as well as in helping the Northern Ireland peace initiative. The Bush administration wanted to confine him to making toasts and judging step-dancing contests.”
Egan did not let the editorial go unanswered.
In a letter to the editor he vigorously defended the tradition of politically appointed ambassadors and denied being a poor choice for the Dublin post.
“I was probably one of the best-qualified candidates ever to be appointed U.S. ambassador to Ireland,” Egan wrote. “My relationship with Ireland began over 40 years ago, and it includes the establishment of a business operation there 14 years ago.
“By the time that I was appointed ambassador, I already had an intimate knowledge of the Irish people, their culture and their politics. I had also established relationships with many of Ireland’s political, academic and business leaders.”
Egan stated that he had received “relatively few complaints” but many compliments during his time in Dublin.
“Most of the latter are from Irish government leaders, business leaders, university presidents and many of the Irish I met throughout my extensive travels beyond Dublin,” Egan wrote.
In his letter Egan also defended his attendance at the Sinn F