The new US Special Envoy to Northern Ireland, Mick Mulvaney, has been sworn into office.

Mr Mulvaney, the former acting White House Chief of Staff, said he officially became envoy in recent days following a virtual swearing-in ceremony via FaceTime.

"I was sworn-in on Friday and immediately started burying myself in the background work that comes with the job. 

"The State Department as well as folks in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and London have all sent me material to read," Mr Mulvaney said.

US President Donald Trump announced in early March that he was appointing Mr Mulvaney to the role of US Special Envoy to Northern Ireland, a position that had been vacant since Mr Trump took office.

Mr Mulvaney is an Irish-American with family roots in Co Mayo.

He was replaced in the role of White House Chief of Staff by Republican Congressman Mark Meadows.


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"I spent a good bit of time in March helping my successor Mark Meadows who is a good friend of mine. Mark and I are very close and I'd recommended him for that job to the president. It was very interesting to make sure he transitioned successfully," Mr Mulvaney said.

"Over the course of the last couple of weeks, I came home to South Carolina because I was no longer deemed essential in Washington. I've spent the last few days throwing myself into the envoy position and it has been a lot of fun."

Mr Mulvaney had hoped to make his first trip to Northern Ireland as envoy this month, but that is now unlikely because of Covid-19 travel restrictions.

"I'm doing what I can by email. I had hoped there might be exceptions to the travel restrictions for diplomatic purposes but it sounds like that won't work out.

"I'm being told that 1 July may be the first opportunity but as soon as the country is open, I'll be there for as long as necessary," he said.

The pandemic has not just disrupted Mr Mulvaney's plans to visit Belfast, it has also made him more focused on the potential economic impact of the outbreak on Northern Ireland. 

"Economics and prosperity are at the heart of many of the issues affecting Northern Ireland and that will come into more glaring focus at the back end of the coronavirus crisis," he added.

"Getting economic opportunities in Northern Ireland will be even more important than it was before."