The US State Department announced on Monday the appointment of Joe Kennedy III, the great grandnephew of John F Kennedy, as Washington's special envoy to Northern Ireland for Economic Affairs.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Mr Kennedy's work will build on “the long-standing US commitment to supporting peace, prosperity and stability in Northern Ireland”, including the landmark Belfast/Good Friday Agreement.
Mr Kennedy tweeted that his appointment was “an incredible honour” and that he looks forward to working with President Joe Biden to “promote economic prosperity and opportunity” in Northern Ireland.
The US ambassador to Ireland, Claire Cronin, added that she was “thrilled” by Mr Kennedy's appointment, calling the new envoy “smart, hardworking and the perfect person for the job”.
Mr Kennedy is a member of the politically elite Irish-American Kennedy family, whose financial power and status in Washington goes back over a century.
He is son of former congressman Joseph Kennedy II and grandson of former senator and attorney general Robert F Kennedy.
His great uncles were former president John F Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1963, and Ted Kennedy, a long-time Democratic senator who died in 2009.
The newly appointed special envoy represented his home state of Massachusetts in Congress for eight years, has served as the state's assistant district attorney and worked as a Peace Corps Volunteer.
Mr Kennedy will replace Mick Mulvaney, who left the position at the end of Donald Trump’s presidency in January 2021.
Mr Blinken added that Mr Kennedy's work will parallel other diplomatic efforts in Europe to engage with political leaders on efforts to restore the Northern Ireland Executive and to resolve differences on the Northern Ireland Protocol.
The dispute over the Northern Ireland Protocol — the part of the Brexit deal that keeps the region in the EU’s single market to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland — has long hampered relations between London and Brussels, even though both sides agreed to a trade deal in December 2020.