The nominee to be the next US Ambassador to Ireland has been unanimously approved by the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Irish-American lawyer Kevin O'Malley's name now goes forward to the floor of the Senate for further consideration and a vote.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has also approved the nomination of John Francis Tefft to be its Ambassador to Russia.

Several members of the committee called for his name to be processed as quickly as possible given the current state of relations between the US and Russia.

Republican Senator John McCain said he hoped Republicans and Democrats could come together during what he described as "these tense times" to move Mr Tefft's name as quickly as possible.

Committee chairman Democratic Senator Robert Menendez said that whether Russia or elsewhere, the US could not speak about interests or security without having ambassadors in its residences.

Senator McCain said he would like to see John Francis Tefft's name pass through the floor of the Senate to full confirmation before Congress rises for its summer break at the end of this week.

Mr Tefft is a career diplomat with almost 41 years in the US Foreign Service.

He had recently retired and the committee today thanked him and his wife for ending their retirement to make themselves available for a posting to Moscow. 

Mr Tefft had most recently served as US Ambassador to Ukraine.

He also previously served as US Ambassador to Georgia and also to Lithuania.

He also worked as Deputy Chief of Mission to Russia and Chargé d'affaires at the Moscow embassy.