Doubt over new North economic envoy

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The U.S. State Department is refusing to state whether a new envoy will be named for Northern Ireland. The former economic envoy, Declan Kelly, resigned the post in May.

He was appointed to the position by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in September, 2009. Kelly, a Tipperary native, is married to an American and had offered significant financial support for Mrs. Clinton’s presidential run.

Previously, Kelly was a vice-president of a public relations consulting firm that was sold before the global financial bubble burst in 2007. Within weeks of stepping down as economic envoy, Kelly announced the formation of a new company, Teneo Strategy Consulting.

The formation of Kelly’s newest venture was in the works for some time before Kelly resigned. A trademark application was made for the Teneo company logo in April, 2010, and an application for funding was also submitted to the Rockefeller Foundation months before its approval in early June, giving the new company a huge grant for over three million dollars in start up cash.

Former president Bill Clinton, and former British prime minister Tony Blair, are on the Teneo advisory board, and several of the new company’s principles have strong ties to Mr. Clinton. Teneo originally announced its intention to open offices in Dublin as well as New York, Washington, D.C. and London. Most lately, however, the company’s website shows Dublin has been apparently dropped in favor of Toronto. the company offers services in merchant banking and financial and public relations advising.

Weeks after Kelly left the envoy position, the Northern Ireland enterprise minister, Arlene Foster, mistakenly told an Assembly committee that Kelly had paid for the expenses incurred while economic envoy out of his own pocket.

A U.S. State Department official said though Kelly did not accept a salary, “the State Department did provide administrative support and reimbursement for travel expenses.”

Several staff employed by the State Department as administrative support for the envoy position while Mr. Kelly was envoy are now working at Teneo.

Meanwhile, the Northern Ireland Assembly’s First Minister, Peter Robinson, testified several months ago that he raised the issue of a replacement for Kelly with Secretary of State Clinton, but there has not been any indication whether the U.S. will appoint another envoy.

During the Bush administration, there were several envoys, including ambassadors Richard Haass, Mitchell Reiss and Paula Dobriansky, whose remits went beyond just Northern Ireland’s economy.

The original U.S. envoy for Northern Ireland was former Senator George Mitchell, who helped broker the Good Friday Agreement.

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