Donald Trump’s acting chief of staff is to become the US special envoy to Northern Ireland.
The US president confirmed Mick Mulvaney has taken up the role in a tweet on Friday.
The diplomatic role has remained vacant since former US senator Gary Hart left the position in 2017 when Mr Trump took power.
Mr Mulvaney is replaced as the president’s chief of staff by Republican Congressman Mark Meadows.
....I want to thank Acting Chief Mick Mulvaney for having served the Administration so well. He will become the United States Special Envoy for Northern Ireland. Thank you!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 7, 2020
Mr Mulvaney is an Irish-American and has strong links to Co Mayo where his grandparents are from.
The appointment came as the White House released details of Mr Trump’s meeting with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar next week.
Mr Varadkar will travel to the US for the annual St Patrick’s celebrations.
In a statement, the White House said the two men will discuss how to strengthen relations between the US and Ireland, including the robust and cultural ties and joint commitment to “maintain the gains” of the Good Friday Agreement.
Mr Trump also said he is looking forward to hosting the Taoiseach at the traditional Shamrock Bowl presentation at the White House.
Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill welcomed Mr Mulvaney’s appointment.
Mrs Foster said: “We met Mr Mulvaney during his recent trip to Belfast and welcomed his interest in the restoration of a powersharing Executive.
“The United States has been a loyal friend to Northern Ireland and the appointment of the new Special Envoy will be important in developing that friendship.
“The US is a key market for us and we will be using our time in Washington next week to get the message across that we are open for businesses, an attractive place to invest with a skilled and strong work force.”
Ms O’Neill said: “I welcome the appointment of Mr Mulvaney and hope this role will allow him to build on the work of those who held the role before him in supporting the peace process and the Good Friday Agreement.
“We have strong historical, political and economic connections with the US and I look forward to working with the new Special Envoy during his term in office to build on those links as we work to protect our interests after Brexit.”
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar tweeted: “Really pleased Mick Mulvaney has been appointed as US special envoy to Northern Ireland.
“He has been a good friend to Ireland and understands all the key issues in detail.
“He’ll have a hotline to President Trump when it comes to issues affecting Ireland, north and south.”