Cleveland businessman Edward Crawford
By Ray O’Hanlon
The vacancy at the U.S. ambassador’s residence in Dublin passed the two year mark on Sunday, January 20.
It passed another mark last week as the visit to Washington by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar came and went without word of progress in the filling of the Dublin post.
There was talk of a special envoy to the North peace process during the taoiseach’s visit but nary an audible word about an American plenipotentiary to the republic.
The man who would end that absence, U.S. ambassador-designate Edward Crawford, was re-nominated to the diplomatic post in January, this because his initial nomination ran its course with the end of the 115thCongress.
Crawford now requires approval by the Senate Judiciary Committee followed by the approval of the full Senate – the current 116th Congress version.
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That is yet to occur.
Crawford, a successful Cleveland, Ohio businessman, was formally announced last September as President Trump’s choice for an ambassadorship that has long symbolized the close relationship between the United States and Ireland.
The question now is whether Mr. Crawford makes Irish landfall before President Trump who indicated a desire, during his meeting with Mr. Varadkar, to visit Ireland at some point this year.
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, January 20, 2017.
Mr. Burns withdrew his name from consideration citing health reasons and from the summer of 2017 the name of Mr. Crawford 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 parents 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 an Irish Times report last year, 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.
“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 stated.
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, was taking so long, the Times report added.