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Joe Kennedy III to Remain on Harvard IOP Advisory Committee While Envoy to Northern Ireland

Joseph P. Kennedy III, a former Massachusetts representative and a member of the Institute of Politics Senior Advisory Committee, was appointed special envoy to Northern Ireland on Monday.
Joseph P. Kennedy III, a former Massachusetts representative and a member of the Institute of Politics Senior Advisory Committee, was appointed special envoy to Northern Ireland on Monday. By Allison G. Lee

Former Massachusetts Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III will remain on the Harvard Institute of Politics’ Senior Advisory Committee while he serves as special envoy to Northern Ireland, according to two sources close to Kennedy.

With Kennedy remaining on the committee, a member of the Kennedy family will continue to advise the institute founded as a living memorial to President John F. Kennedy ’40 — preserving a long-standing relationship that has grown rocky amid clashes between members of the family and Harvard administrators.

Kennedy, a Harvard Law School graduate, will serve as the special envoy to Northern Ireland, U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken ’84 announced in a State Department press statement Monday morning.

The appointment marks a return to politics for Kennedy, who left office in 2021 after he staged an unsuccessful challenge to incumbent Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) in the 2020 Democratic primary.

Kennedy wrote in a tweet that the appointment is an “incredible honor” and that he will work with the Biden administration “to reaffirm US commitment to Northern Ireland and to promote economic prosperity and opportunity for all its people.”

Unlike other members of the IOP’s Senior Advisory Committee who were tapped to serve in the Biden administration, Kennedy will not need to depart the IOP because his role as special envoy is a part-time position, according to the two sources.

Two former Senior Advisory Committee members — U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Jeff Flake and U.S. Deputy Trade Representative Sarah A. Bianchi ’95 — both departed the IOP after they were sworn into office late last year.

Members of the Kennedy family have played an active role on the advisory committee since the Institute’s founding in 1966, but in recent years, the Kennedy family’s influence at the Harvard Kennedy School and the IOP has diminished.

Caroline B. Kennedy ’80 resigned from the IOP’s Senior Advisory Committee in February 2020, leaving Joseph Kennedy III as the sole Kennedy family member on the committee. A 2021 Crimson investigation revealed Caroline Kennedy’s departure stemmed from concerns about the governance and leadership of the IOP.

Joseph Kennedy III is taking on the role amid an ongoing dispute between the United Kingdom and the European Union over the Northern Ireland Protocol, a post-Brexit deal that prevented the establishment of a hard border on the island of Ireland.

Blinken, a former Crimson Editor, said in his statement that Kennedy will further “economic development and investment opportunities” and foster relationships between Northern Ireland and the United States.

“His role builds on the long-standing U.S. commitment to supporting peace, prosperity, and stability in Northern Ireland and the peace dividends of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement,” Blinken said. “I look forward to Joe’s engagement and service with the people and leaders of Northern Ireland.”

The special envoy to Northern Ireland role had not been filled since Mick Mulvaney, who previously served as acting chief of staff to President Donald J. Trump, resigned from the role on Jan. 7, 2021, following the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S Capitol.

Setti D. Warren, the interim director of the IOP, wrote in a statement that “the Institute of Politics will continue to follow all appropriate federal ethics guidance as members of our Senior Advisory Committee serve our country and the American people.”

“We congratulate Rep. Kennedy on his appointment as special envoy to Northern Ireland and applaud his ongoing commitment to public service,” Warren wrote.

—Staff writer Miles J. Herszenhorn can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @MHerszenhorn.

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