Belfast Telegraph

Still no sign of Washington special envoy

By Allan Preston

US officials have been unable to confirm if a new special envoy to Northern Ireland will be appointed in time for Washington's St Patrick's Day celebrations.

The role has been vacant since President Donald Trump took office in January last year.

A State Department official said: "As the Secretary of State (Rex Tillerson) said late last week, the department is reviewing with the White House potential candidates to take on this role for Northern Ireland. We have no announcements to make at this time."

Last August Mr Tillerson pledged to scrap all international envoys but promised to keep the local role after concerns were raised by 32 members of Congress.

The issue was raised again after Tanaiste Simon Coveney visited the US last week to meet Mr Tillerson and senior adviser Jared Kushner, Mr Trump's son-in-law.

Mr Coveney said at the time: "The United States has been instrumental in helping to broker peace in Northern Ireland and continues to provide valuable encouragement and support to the peace process."

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will visit Washington for St Patrick's Day in two weeks. For the second year in a row Northern Ireland will have no First or Deputy First Minister to attend.

Belfast Telegraph

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