| 7.5°C Belfast

Barack Obama pledges to visit Ireland again after leaving White House


US President Barack Obama on a previous visit to Ireland

US President Barack Obama on a previous visit to Ireland

US President Barack Obama on a previous visit to Ireland

Outgoing US president Barack Obama will return to the Republic of Ireland once he has left the White House, Washington's ambassador in Dublin said.

Kevin O'Malley said Mr Obama had asked him to tell the people of Ireland he would return to the country once he had left office.

Like millions of Americans, Mr Obama has Irish roots - something he celebrated on a visit in 2011 when he supped a pint of Guinness at a pub in his ancestral homeland Moneygall.

Mr Obama's great-great-great-great-grandfather was a shoemaker in the rural village and his son, Falmouth Kearney, left for New York in 1850.

Mr O'Malley, whose tenure as ambassador will also end when Donald Trump enters the White House, said Mr Obama told him he would be coming back to Ireland - possibly later this year.

"The last sentence that the president said to me on Wednesday of this week when we were saying goodbye was 'please tell them I'm coming'," he told RTE Radio 1.

"So I think that's the president's way of saying informally that you will probably see him again and my guess is in the coming year or so."

The ambassador refused to be drawn on reports that the president-elect has appointed his friend, businessman Brian Burns, for the Dublin post.

"I read the same reports that you read," he told the Marian Finucane Show.

"The president-elect hasn't consulted me on this issue, nor probably should he.

"All I would say is that there are always a lot of names floating around. This is a very sought-after post. People, especially Irish-Americans, are thrilled to come here."