A Kennedy, American envoy to Northern Ireland

Who more legitimate than a Kennedy to watch over Northern Ireland? Joe Kennedy III, grandson of New York Senator Robert Kennedy (assassinated in June 1968), was appointed on December 19 by Joe Biden, special envoy of the United States for theNorth Ireland.

A homecoming for this elected Democrat in the US House of Representatives. His great-grandfather Joseph Patrick Kennedy, founder of the dynasty in America, was Irish, originally from the village of Dunganstown, near the town of New Ross, County Wexford, in the south-east of the Republic of Ireland.

A symbolic dimension

Joe Kennedy III was born 42 years ago in Boston and grew up in Massachusetts with his twin brother, Matthew Rauch Kennedy. After earning a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University, he spent two years in the Dominican Republic as a member of the Peace Corps. A Harvard graduate in 2009, he resigned as assistant district attorney in 2012 to run for the seat of the United States House of Representatives. In 2020, he tried to be elected to the Senate, in vain. He joined several advisory boards and became a political commentator for CNN.

According to a press release from the head of American diplomacy, Antony Blinken, Joe Kennedy III will be particularly responsible for the economy and the promotion of investment and development in Northern Ireland. This appointment is not surprising. The American President, Joe Biden himself from two Southern Irish families, from County Mayo (in the west) and County Louth (in the east), is very sensitive to the Northern Irish question and intends to protect it from the effects of Brexit . Extremely proud of his roots, by choosing a member of the Kennedy family, he adds a symbolic dimension to this appointment.

Northern Irish Protocol

Time and again, he warned London against its attempts to alter Northern Irish protocol. Adopted as part of Brexit, it avoids the return of a border between the two Irelands. But the British government has introduced a bill unilaterally modifying the provisions relating to this protocol, strongly criticized by both the European Union and Washington. For the White House, any change would risk undermining peace on the island. This was sealed by the Good Friday agreement. Signed on April 10, 1998, it put an end to thirty years of civil war between Unionists, especially Protestants, and mainly Catholic Republicans in favor of reunification with the Republic of Ireland.

The relationships between United States and the Emerald Isle are ancient and can be explained by the strong emigration of the Irish to America. The causes of their exile are numerous, linked to their precarious economic status as farmers and to the politico-economic domination of the island by the English and the Scots. Emigration increased during the Great Famine which hit Ireland in the 19th century.e century (1845 and 1855) and pushed a large part of its population to emigrate. Even today, about 10% of the American population has a more or less distant Irish origin. And St. Patrick’s Day is as much an American holiday as it is Irish.

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