Cleveland’s Edward Crawford has been put forward by the president as next U.S. ambassador to Ireland
By Ray O’Hanlon
After a vacancy of almost one year and eight months the U.S. Ambassador’s residence in Dublin’s Phoenix Park looks as if it will be accommodating a new plenipotentiary.
Cleveland, Ohio businessman Ed Crawford, whose name has been just about the only one mentioned in connection with the posting this past year or so, has been announced as President Trump’s choice for an ambassadorship that has long symbolized the close relationship between the United States and Ireland.
Interestingly, and indeed oddly, the news of Crawford’s naming comes immediately in the wake of reports that President Trump would not be undertaking a visit to Ireland in November.
The question is, if there’s an American ambassador in Dublin, will the president now rethink his plans?
That’s assuming Crawford is actually in Dublin by the first half of the eleventh month.
He has to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate and there is a long line of appointees to various posts waiting outside the doors of the Senate Judiciary committee and the full Senate Chamber.
Businessman Brian Burns was President Trump’s first choice as ambassador to replace Ambassador Kevin O’Malley who left Dublin, as per State Department instruction, on the day of Trump’s inauguration.
Mr. Burns withdrew his name from consideration citing health reasons and from the summer of last year the name of Mr. Crawford, who is 80, was the only one circulating as the likely replacement.
A long-time Republican backer and donor, Mr. Crawford is the billionaire chairman of Park-Ohio Holdings, a Nasdaq-listed company which has operations around the world, including in Cork.
Mr. Crawford, whose grandparents came from County Cork, was an early supporter of Donald Trump’s presidential bid.
He is very active in Cleveland’s vibrant Irish American community, so much so that the city’s most important Irish organization, the Mayo Society, named Crawford as its Person of the Year in 2014.
This was the first time ever that the society had bestowed the honor on someone with other than Mayo roots.
“I think it’s a wonderful, wonderful decision by the Mayo Society to step out and decide to be more inclusive here. There are other great counties in Ireland. I think it gives the Mayo Society the opportunity to reach out to a broader group of individuals that, in one way or another, have contributed to the Irish sense of themselves,” Crawford said at the time.
“I think they made the right decision in picking a Corkman I have to say,” he added, more than a little tongue in cheek.
Mr. Crawford played a central role in the restoration of Cleveland’s Irish Cultural Garden and spoke at the opening of the garden alongside then taoiseach Enda Kenny.
His company, Park-Ohio Holdings, according to the Irish Times, provides supply chain management services and engineered products. It employs about 6,000 people in more than twenty countries, including Ireland, and has annual revenues of $1.3 billion.
Mr. Crawford’s Irish business interests are said to be a reason why his vetting by U.S. government officials, a painstaking process for most nominees seeking appointment to diplomatic roles, took so long, the Times report stated.
“Company records list him as a director of eight active Irish companies including Ballybeg Finance Company of Dublin, Iega Industrial Equipment Group and Parkohio European Holding Company,” the report added.