The US Senate has confirmed Irish-American solicitor Kevin O'Malley as the next US Ambassador to Ireland.

Ireland had been without a US Ambassador since December 2012.

Mr O'Malley had already been recommended by the Senate's Foreign Relations Committee, but his nomination had to be voted on in the Senate chamber.

His nomination had passed through the Senate confirmation process much quicker than others.

There is a backlog of ambassadorial appointments, with almost 40 awaiting a confirmation vote in the Senate.

The average waiting time following approval from the Senate Foreign Relations committee is around seven months.

Mr O'Malley had been waiting less than two.

He was nominated by US President Barack Obama to the post at the beginning of June and has described him as a "close personal friend".

Mr O'Malley appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on 15 July and was questioned about his position on a number of issues, including tax, Northern Ireland and the economy.

The committee unanimously approved his nomination at the end of July, however his name did not go forward to the floor of the Senate before the summer recess.

A further delay had been anticipated given the limited number of Congress sittings ahead of the mid-term elections.