Northern Ireland envoy to focus on ‘economic issues’ rather than politics

Joe Kennedy, a grandson of former presidential candidate Robert Kennedy, expected to be announced special envoy to Northern Ireland on Monday

The new special envoy to Northern Ireland, due to be appointed by the Biden administration, will concentrate on economic rather than political affairs, US sources have said.

The White House will on Monday announce the appointment of former congressman Joe Kennedy – the grandson of former US attorney general and presidential candidate Robert Kennedy – to the role.

US sources said the new envoy will focus on advancing economic development and investment opportunities.

Mr Kennedy will also aim to strengthen “people-to-people ties to benefit all communities”.


US sources said Mr Kennedy would not be involved in issues such as the negotiations between the EU and UK over the future of the Northern Ireland protocol or the restoration of devolved Government.

Mr Kennedy will be the first person to hold the post of US envoy to Northern Ireland since Mick Mulvaney, a former chief of staff to Donald Trump when he was in the White House, left the position in 2021.

Several senior Irish American politicians had in recent months been pressing US president Joe Biden to appoint a new special envoy to Northern Ireland.

Mr Kennedy, who is 42, was once considered as the political heir to the most famous Irish American political dynasties.

He left the US House of Representatives after eight years in 2020 to seek a senate seat for Massachusetts but lost out to incumbent Edward Markey.

Martin Wall

Martin Wall

Martin Wall is Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously industry correspondent