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Crawford signals readiness for ambassador post

April 12, 2019

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Edward Crawford with then taoiseach Enda Kenny at the re-dedication of Cleveland’s Irish Cultural Garden in October, 2012

 

By Ray O’Hanlon

 

Edward Crawford told a U.S. Senate panel on Thursday that he was ready and prepared for the job of being the next United States Ambassador to Ireland.

The Cleveland, Ohio-based businessman testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee together with the nominated ambassadors to Turkey and North Macedonia.

The hearing was carried live on the Echo website as it was being broadcast by the Capitol Hill-based FedNet channel.

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Crawford will now require the approval of the full Senate. There are no apparent impediments to his confirmation but also no indication at this point when the Senate will vote on his nomination.

Crawford, 80, in his testimony, cited his Irish heritage and his experience as a business executive and employer.

“During my 58 years of building this company I learned a great deal about people, problems and opportunities. If I am confirmed, I will bring this experience, knowledge and enthusiasm to the post of U.S. ambassador to Ireland, strengthening the Irish relationship,” Crawford told the Senate panel.

Crawford indicated that from his Dublin post he would work to maintain the U.S. role in underpinning the Northern Ireland peace process and would be ready to help his hosts as they deal with the effects of Brexit.

Crawford, whose parents came to the U.S. from Ireland in the 1920s, expressed pride in his family’s story.

“The United States is built on the hard work and sacrifice of immigrants like the Irish who made significant contributions to the country and continue to serve as an example for all of us today,” he said   Crawford has long been active in Cleveland’s Irish-American community, which credits him with reviving the Irish Cultural Garden on Martin Luther King Blvd., founding the Irish Garden Club and investing his own money, while also fundraising, the Cleveland Plain Dealer noted in its report of the hearing.

The garden has a 13,000-pound granite fountain patterned after the famous fountain outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin, the report stated.

The Cleveland Daily also highlighted a whiff of partisan politics in the hearing – though not from Crawford himself, who was Donald Trump’s Ohio finance chairman during the 2016 campaign.

Crawford was introduced to the Senate panel, which is chaired by Republican Senator Jim Risch from Idaho, by both senators from Ohio, Republican Rob Portman, and Democrat Sherrod Brown.

Portman, a member of the Foreign Relations panel, described Crawford as being “highly qualified” while stating:  “the Irish want him and they’re eager to get him there.”

Said Portman: “Ireland and the United States have so many close economic ties and as we navigate the challenges associated with the future, I’m glad that someone of his acumen and relationship with the president has the opportunity to be in that ambassador role. He will be instantly respected by the Irish both for his background and intellect, but also for his deep love of the country, and embracing the Irish as he does.”

Senator Brown praised the nominee and his immigrant Irish heritage.

But he also took a swipe at the man Crawford helped get elected to the White House.

Brown said that politicians who tried to keep Irish immigrants out of the United States years ago by claiming the country was full “were wrong then and those naysayers are wrong today.”

Said Brown: “Mr. Crawford’s life makes clear the Irish often succeed beyond their wildest dreams. Today, it is more important than ever that we have a thoughtful, skilled ambassador in Dublin to negotiate the intricacies of our two countries’ relations, especially with the UK poised to leave the European Union.”

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