US president Joe Biden has appointed former Congressman Joe Kennedy as special envoy to Northern Ireland – a move that has been criticised as “political sycophancy”.
The appointment has been seen as an attempt to intervene in Brexit and put pressure on the UK to accept Brussels’ demands for province to become a part of the EU's customs union in all but name.
DUP MP Ian Paisley Jr said: "It seems to be a sectarian appointment. A pro-Irish American appointing one of the club - as if this is a job for the boys.
“This is a perfect example of political sycophancy that one would expect from the Biden administration."
Former Congressman Joe Kennedy has been appointed as special envoy to Northern Ireland Niall Carson
He said that the appointment “flatters Joe Kennedy”, saying: “I don’t know what his economic skill is.”
Paisley Jr said he was “not impressed”, explaining: "He is not known for any influence or particular skill in economics so why would he be known as the man who is to be the whizz kid of the economy of Northern Ireland?"
But added: "We’ll measure him not by his name but by his role."
Former Congressman Joe Kennedy III is the grandson of Bobby Kennedy and great-grandson of the first Joe Kennedy who was ambassador to the UK.
He has strong links with Sinn Fein and is also part of the Irish American lobby which has driven Democrat policy into a pro-EU position on the Northern Ireland protocol.
Since Mick Mulvaney left the role at the end of the Donald Trump presidency in 2021, the position has been vacant.
One insider said the appointment is a "complete wind up for the Conservative party", adding that it has "ruffled loads of feathers already" as reported by the Express.
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, leader of the DUP, with party colleague Gordon Lyons MLA have shared their concerns Liam McBurney
The source added: "People aren't happy about it."
Following Brexit, the UK has been in dispute with the EU over the protocol which was agreed as part of the withdrawal agreement in a bid to evade a hard border in Ireland.
The agreement means Northern Ireland remain in the EU’s single market for goods – which has faced backlash as a border was created between Britain and Northern Ireland down the Irish Sea.