US President Joe Biden is about to appoint former Congressman Joe Kennedy as special envoy to Northern Ireland.
The 42-year-old politician, who hails from the Kennedy political dynasty, will take the job that has been vacant since January 2021 when Donald Trump’s former White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney resigned.
It comes at a delicate time for Northern Ireland, which has been without a sitting executive and found itself at the center of a standoff between the UK and the EU over Brexit trade deals.
Kennedy is the grandson of former US Senator and Attorney General Robert Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1968. He represented Massachusetts in Congress from 2013 to 2021. He chose not to run for the US House of Representatives in the 2020 election, but instead challenged Senator Ed Markey. for his US Senate seat. But in a blow to his political career, he lost the Democratic primary race to Markey, paving the way for his departure from frontline politics.
Two officials told POLITICO that an announcement from the White House is imminent. Starting in January, the new rules mean that all special envoy roles must be approved by the US Senate, a procedural requirement that could delay any appointment.
Negotiations continue between British and EU officials over the Northern Ireland protocol, the part of the Brexit deal that deals with trade between Britain and Northern Ireland.
Unionists, who support Northern Ireland’s status as part of the United Kingdom, oppose the protocol, which they say puts up barriers between Britain and Northern Ireland. But the EU argues that the British government committed to the deal that is now established in international law during previous negotiations, and that the protocol preserves Northern Ireland’s place in the EU’s single market.
On Thursday, British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly met European Commission Vice President Maroš Šefčovič for high-level talks in Brussels on the protocol amid signs a deal could be reached. in February of next year.