SEEKONK, Mass. (WPRI) — Will President Biden pick former Massachusetts Congressman Joe Kennedy III as the new U.S. envoy to Northern Ireland?
IrishCentral, a plugged-in website on Irish affairs, reported late last week that Kennedy has emerged as the “clear favorite” to get the appointment. Bloomberg News separately reported last week that an announcement about the position is “imminent.”
A spokesperson for Kennedy did not respond to multiple requests for comment from 12 News, and the White House has not responded to a request for comment. Sources in Massachusetts and Washington cautioned that it’s still unclear if Kennedy will actually get the job.
Kennedy, 42, represented parts of Bristol County in the U.S. House from 2013 until 2020, when he mounted an unsuccessful Democratic primary challenge against incumbent U.S. Sen. Ed Markey.
He has mostly stayed out of the political spotlight since then, focusing in part on the Groundwork Project, a political advocacy group he founded which seeks to assist Democrats in places where the party is weak. Federal Election Commission records show Groundwork’s political action committee has raised $2.4 million since Kennedy left Congress.
Kennedy was also spotted earlier this month at a black-tie event in Boston where the visiting British royals, Prince William and Princess Kate, hosted an environmental event.
Massachusetts Congressman Bill Keating has been using his perch as chairman of the House subcommittee on Europe to push Biden to fill the vacancy in Northern Ireland, where Brexit has complicated the diplomatic situation. Keating, a Democrat, represents the 9th District seat anchored by New Bedford that adjoins Kennedy’s old 4th District seat.
Kennedy is the grandson of the late U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and a member of the most prominent Irish-American family in U.S. politics, one which has long been closely involved in Irish affairs.
His great-uncle, the late Ted Kennedy, played a key role in diplomatic efforts to secure the Good Friday Agreement that achieved peace in Northern Ireland, at a time when his great-aunt, the late Jean Kennedy Smith, was serving as President Clinton’s ambassador to Ireland.
Ted Nesi (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a Target 12 investigative reporter and 12 News politics/business editor. He co-hosts Newsmakers and writes Nesi’s Notes on Saturdays. Connect with him on Twitter and Facebook