Secretary Clinton swore in Tipperary native Declan Kelly last Friday evening at the State Department in Washington.
By the next day, Kelly, a married father of one, was on a transatlantic flight and off to a fast start in his new job of promoting trade and investment in the Northern Ireland economy.
The appointment of Kelly took some by surprise though it was being spoken of in Northern Ireland political circles in the days before the appointment by Clinton, one that does not require congressional approval.
Kelly’s elevation to his new post was quickly welcomed.
“I would like to congratulate Declan on his appointment as economic envoy. The Northern Ireland Executive is grateful for the Obama administrations commitment to remain engaged with our region, and we eagerly anticipate working with Declan on the basis of mutual benefit and cooperation,” said First Minister Peter Robinson.
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness was also effusive.
“The United States has always played a key role in our political and economic development. We are pleased that the new administration will continue this work.
“We wish Declan every success in carrying out the duties of his office. It is our hope that the warm relationship between ourselves and the United States continues under his appointment,” said McGuinness.
The appointment also received a thumbs up from congressional Friends of Ireland chairman, Rep. Richard Neal. “The appointment of Declan Kelly to the position of economic envoy sends a strong message that the Obama administration will continue to make the island of Ireland a top priority,” said Neal.
Declan brings experience and enthusiasm to a job that takes on added significance given the uncertainty of the global economy.
“The fact that he is in Belfast clearly demonstrates his commitment to economic development and job creation in the North. I look forward to working with closely with him to achieve these important goals, Neal added.
Until July of this year Kelly, 41, was executive vice president at FTI Consulting, an international consulting company.
During last year’s presidential race, Kelly was also a significant fundraiser to then Senator Clinton as she sought Irish American support for her White House bid.
Prior to FTI, Kelly headed Financial Dynamics, both in the U.S. and Ireland. Kelly was a member of the management team that sold Financial Dynamics to FTI in 2006.
Kelly began his career as a journalist and worked for the Nenagh Guardian and Tipperary Star newspapers before joining The Cork Examiner.
He won Ireland’s business journalist of the year award in 1994, an achievement that led to a move from journalism into public relations.
A graduate of University College Galway, Kelly serves as chairman of the university’s U.S. foundation board. He also sits on the executive board of the American Ireland Fund.
Last year, he was the recipient of the American Irish Historical Society’s gold medal.