Category: Archive

Pols back Gilman for Dublin posting

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

The head of a large construction company from Wheeling, Ill., James C.
Kenny, has been the frontrunner to become the Bush administration’s second ambassador to Ireland. But this week, several Republicans familiar with the selection process said there’ve been “grumblings” from Chicago.
One source said: “The last I heard, things weren’t going very well and
he [Kenny] wasn’t too sure he wanted it.”
That could leave former New York Rep. Ben Gilman the favorite to take up residency in Phoenix Park.
Several members of Congress have written to President Bush recommending Gilman for the job. The New York Republican held many hearings on the Irish peace process when he was chairman of the House Committee on International Relations Committee, and is regarded highly by some Irish-American groups.
“The letters that came from the Hill were bipartisan, and that would mean a lot easier confirmation than someone with dicey financial or political backgrounds,” one official said.
Kenny is a major political donor to both the GOP and Bush’s personal campaign, and has been a delegate to the Republican National Convention.
Meanwhile Sinn Fein’s decision this week not to join Northern Ireland’s police board is unwelcome news in Washington. The Bush administration’s point man on the North, Richard Haass, has been publicly trying to lead the party to the board for over a year. And while clearly Washington has its hands full managing a war, it has repeatedly insisted it maintains an active role in solving Northern Irish issues.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern are due to
publish proposals next week on the restoration of the Northern Ireland Assembly and the power-sharing executive in time for the elections. The question is whether an American ambassador will be in place in Dublin to help them in their efforts.
Massachusetts computer magnate Richard Egan recently stepped down as American ambassador to Dublin. Reports suggested that he was frustrated at being sidelined to ceremonial and investment-related duties while the heavy diplomatic and negotiating tasks were coordinated directly from the state department in Washington.

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