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US Senate approves state Representative Cronin as ambassador to Ireland

Representative Claire Cronin is pictured at the Democratic National Convention on Aug. 18, 2020.Associated Press

The US Senate on Saturday confirmed Massachusetts state Representative Claire D. Cronin as the country’s next ambassador to Ireland.

The voice vote occurred during the early morning hours as senators took up a slate of President Biden’s nominations for ambassadors, judges, and other positions.

In a statement Saturday, Cronin thanked Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken for their support.

“I am looking forward to the work ahead, but for now my focus is on the work of the House of Representatives and for the people of the Eleventh Plymouth District,” she said.

Cronin, who lives in Easton, didn’t disclose when she would resign her seat. Her departure would likely prompt House lawmakers to schedule a special election to pick a new representative for the district, which covers parts of Easton and Brockton.


The confirmation caps off an eventful year for Cronin, who ascended in February to the role of House majority leader under Speaker Ronald Mariano. The appointment made Cronin the first woman to serve as the chamber’s second-ranking Democrat. Four months later, Biden nominated Cronin to become the next ambassador to Ireland; and Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted favorably on her nomination in October.

On Saturday, Mariano issued a statement congratulating Cronin and thanking her for years of service.

“The Commonwealth has greatly benefitted from Claire’s integrity, intellect, and leadership. The House of Representatives has been especially fortunate to have Claire among its ranks and as its first woman Majority Leader,” he said. “She leads through example — with the goal of elevating voices, advocating for a more just society, and delivering impactful solutions through collaboration. Claire is one of those unique people who lifts you up and challenges you to be a better person and public servant.”

Mariano added that Cronin will “be greatly missed in the House.”


“But I trust she will make us proud as Ambassador,” he said.

Laoise Moore, the consul general of Ireland to New England, said Saturday that Daniel Mulhall, the Irish ambassador to the United States, had called Cronin and congratulated her.

“I’m absolutely delighted that she has been confirmed and absolutely wish her all the best when she takes up her new role,” Moore said.

Appearing at a confirmation hearing in September, Cronin said her grandfather came to the United States from Donegal in northwest Ireland, and her sister-in-law was born and raised in Dublin.

“If confirmed, the safety and security of Americans in Ireland will be my top priority,” she told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “If confirmed, I will also advance the shared values that are the bedrock of our enduring ties. These priorities include addressing global challenges together, increasing our shared prosperity, and strengthening our people-to-people ties.”

Ireland is the country’s strongest and largest trade and investment partner, Cronin said at the hearing, noting that 900 US firms operate in Ireland and the nation is the ninth largest investor in the United States.

She pledged to promote the United States as an investment opportunity for Irish companies and to support increased trade to create jobs here and in Ireland.

Cronin also said she planned to “engage in productive and cooperative dialogue to resolve differences over the Northern Ireland Protocol,” the agreement negotiated when the United Kingdom left the European Union under Brexit.

The protocol calls for keeping the land border open between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and was negotiated as part of efforts to protect the 1998 peace accord that ended decades of fighting in Northern Ireland.


“The United States’ relationship with Ireland is close and enduring — one that will continue to grow ever stronger as we work together on a range of shared issues,” Cronin said at her confirmation hearing.

Cronin was a leading surrogate and a fund-raising bundler for Biden’s presidential bid in Massachusetts and appeared on national television during the 2020 Democratic National Convention when she cast the state’s official nominating votes for him.

Cronin previously chaired the Legislature’s powerful Judiciary Committee, where she helped usher a sweeping criminal justice overhaul reform bill into law in 2018. Last year she was among the House’s chief negotiators on a high-profile police accountability bill.

Elected to the House in 2012, Cronin is also a lawyer and served as an arbitrator in the landmark Catholic clergy sexual-abuse settlement.

Her new position will transport Cronin to an estate in Dublin’s Phoenix Park, surrounded by 62 acres of lawn and gardens. The ambassador’s residence was once described by The New York Times as “one of Dublin’s most spectacular houses.”

On Friday evening, US Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota urged her colleagues to act on Cronin’s nomination during remarks on the Senate floor.

“Ireland is an economic partner, a security partner, and of course, the US is home to many proud Irish Americans,” Klobuchar said. “We need Ambassador Cronin to move forward.”


Cronin joins a long list of former Massachusetts elected officials who became diplomats.

Former governor Paul Cellucci left the State House to serve as President George W. Bush’s ambassador to Canada, just a few years after his predecessor, former governor Bill Weld, also resigned after he was nominated by President Bill Clinton to be the ambassador to Mexico. (Weld ultimately withdrew after he was blocked from having a hearing by conservative Republicans in the US Senate.)

Former US senator Scott Brown served as the ambassador to New Zealand in the Trump administration; former Boston mayor Ray Flynn was ambassador to the Holy See under Clinton; and former US representative and one-time gubernatorial candidate Brian Donnelly was named ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago, also under Clinton.

Matt Stout of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

Laura Crimaldi can be reached at Follow her @lauracrimaldi.