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'I won't see Trump's inauguration, I'll be over the Atlantic': US Ambassador bows out with Obama

“There is a lot of unpredictability ahead of us. I’m an optimist by nature … I hope President Trump is successful.”

kev Outgoing US Ambassador Kevin O'Malley after he presented his credentials to President Michael D Higgins in 2014 Source: Brian Lawless PA Archive/PA Images

KEVIN O’MALLEY BECAME Ireland’s US Ambassador in late 2014, almost two years after Dan Rooney vacated the role.

Ireland and the US have historically shared a strong relationship, something that has been evident in recent years through the visits of President Barack Obama in 2011 and Vice President Joe Biden in 2016.

Incoming president Donald Trump owns a golf resort in Doonbeg, Co Clare, but hasn’t shown a huge amount of interest in Ireland beyond that.

Does O’Malley think Irish-US relations will continue to grow under the Trump administration?

“Absolutely, I’ve no reason to believe it won’t continue into the future. That’s not just wishful thinking.

The relationship between Ireland and the US goes back so far. There is so much shared DNA between Ireland and the US culturally and historically, and now there’s also the commercial relationship. That’s bigger than any one person.

When asked if he believes nurturing a relationship with Ireland might be lower down on Trump’s list of priorities than Obama’s, O’Malley tells TheJournal.ie: “I don’t have a good answer for that, I just don’t know. I was in tune and in sync with the Obama administration.

“That’s a question for my successor. I’ve no reason to think he’s not [interested in developing that relationship]. They’re just too much history there.”

kev and higg Outgoing US Ambassador Kevin O'Malley and President Michael D Higgins at Aras an Uachtarain in 2014 Source: Brian Lawless PA Archive/PA Images

O’Malley won’t be watching the inauguration today, saying: “I’m flying out on Friday, as Obama leaves office. I’ll be over the Atlantic Ocean so won’t have a chance to see the inauguration.”

International uncertainty 

There is a lot of uncertainty internationally at present, in terms of issues such as Brexit, immigration and the new Trump administration.

Is O’Malley worried about what the future could hold?

There is a lot of unpredictably ahead of us. I’m an optimist by nature. Smart people acting reasonably will identify new ways to address problems.

“I hope President Trump is successful.”

There was a 22-month vacancy in the role of US Ambassador prior to O’Malley’s appointment.

He’s hopeful there won’t be such a gap this time around, saying: “There’s no way to predict that. I suspect there wouldn’t be, I don’t know.”

“There’s a relatively detailed vetting process and the Senate confirmation process can take a while, but I’m optimistic [there won’t be as long a wait].”

Creative Minds 

One of the main initiatives O’Malley was involved in in the last two years was Creative Minds – which invited US artists, writers, innovators and musicians to speak to young Irish audiences.

O’Malley says the programme aimed at “making sure young people had a chance to mingle with some of the very best Americans” and make “new and innovative connections”.

“The goal is to find ways to create new collaborations and encourage more creative economic linkages between young people in the United States and Ireland.”

American Chamber of Commerce Thanksgiving Lunches Kevin O'Malley and his wife Dena at the American Chamber of Commerce Thanksgiving lunch in Dublin in 2014 Source: RollingNews.ie

O’Malley, a lawyer, will be returning to  St Louis, Missouri, with his wife Dena today.

He said he hopes he can continue strengthening links between Ireland and the US in a more low-key role.

“The thing that’s going to occupy most of my time will be the continuation of trying to broaden and and deepen Irish and American ties.

“There’s no other countries on earth that have this type of relationship,” he adds.

How are you feeling about the Trump presidency? Concerned? Delighted? We’d like to hear our readers views – so if you’d like to drop us a quick mail, please send it to daragh@thejournal.ie. Include your first name and your county, and we’ll publish some of the messages as part of our liveblog on the inauguration this afternoon.  

Read: Trump: The inauguration protests (and parties) happening in Ireland

Read: Comeback Queen? In New York, the Hillary rumours won’t go away

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About the author:

Órla Ryan

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