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Trump's new man in Ireland admits he's 'not a diplomat' as he faces grilling on tax and Brexit

Edward F Crawford was before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today.

Crawford wore a green tie during today's hearing.
Crawford wore a green tie during today's hearing.
Image: senate.gov

DONALD TRUMP’S NOMINEE for the role of US ambassador to Ireland faced questions about Brexit and taxes today as part of his nomination process.

Billionaire businessman Edward F Crawford was appearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The committee approved his nomination before a full Senate vote at a later date.

During the hearing, Crawford repeatedly referenced his experience in founding a billion-dollar manufacturing and supply-chain company as evidence of his suitability for the role.

During one exchange, the 80-year admitted that he’s “not a diplomat”.

Facing questions about Brexit, Crawford said it had affected Ireland in “very strange ways”.

“This is something that has to be settled by the two parties most concerned, and that is the EU and the UK. Westminster they have to work to solve this problem. Our involvement is steadfast that we should let them work this problem out themselves,” Crawford said, before stating the importance of the peace process.

In an exchange with Crawford, Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen asked whether the US should be more explicit in its support of the Good Friday Agreement.

Shaheen: Do you not think we should weigh in publicly in a way that says we hope they will work it out and urge them to do it. So that they understand clearly that we think that’s in everyone’s best interest?

Crawford: I think they realise the best interest because we’ve made it very clear that we are behind the Good Friday Agreement. We’ve said that’s where we stand. I’m not a diplomat, I’m only a person that has limited information.

“You’re about to be a diplomat if you get confirmed so it’s very important,” Shaheen responded.

Crawford agreed that if he was confirmed he would endeavour to make clear the importance of the Good Friday Agreement in any Brexit deal.

Later in the hearing, Crawford was asked about multinational tax practices in Ireland, something which has been criticised before on the floor of the US Senate.

“One of the successes of the Irish economy was they’ve recognised the fact that you want to keep business tax rates low,” Republican Senator Ron Johnson said to Crawford.

“As a result, that has attracted a lot of investment but it’s also been an irritant to Ireland’s trading partners. Can you comment on that a little bit?”

In response, Crawford spoke about currencies in Europe.

“Ireland’s lower tax rate that’s in place today, I don’t think I’ve enough information available today of quality to be able to give you an opinion on the currencies and that particular issue, because it’s very, very complicated,” he said.

The currencies are changing all around Europe, Brexit has put pressure on this situation but clearly if I’m confirmed I’m going to support the current laws around it as it stands.

PastedImage-59737 Crawford (right) alongside nominees for posts in Turkey and North Macedonia. Source: senate.gov

During his opening statement, Crawford spoke about the “undeniable” links between Ireland and the US and his own Irish-American background.

“My mother left Ireland in 1927 and my father in 1925. Both came through Ellis Island as immigrants, they would be very proud of what we have accomplished as a family and our need to serve America,” he said.

Crawford said that he was “honoured” to be Trump’s nominee to the post and said that his business experience will allow him to understand Irish people.

He said he has been to Ireland “many times” and has connections to a distribution business in Cork.

“My experience in building our company, I believe has given me the tools I believe to understand really, the Irish,” he said.

And If there’s any change in this Brexit situation and Ireland becomes more important, I think that I will be able to contact and get along with the Irish leadership as well as the Irish people.

“I love Ireland, it’s a great place and I think I can play an important role there because of my background but also my ability to bring some things to the table that will enhance the relationship between Ireland and the United States.”

The position of US Ambassador to Ireland has been vacant for the entirety of Trump’s presidency after Kevin O’Malley left following Trump’s inauguration in January 2017.

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About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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