Joe Kennedy is part of the latest generation of one of the US's most famous political dynasties.

His grand uncle was President John F Kennedy, assassinated in Dallas in 1963, and he's the grandson of Robert Kennedy, the US presidential candidate gunned down in California in 1968.

The former Democratic Congressman's other grand uncle was Senator Edward Kennedy and his father Joe Kennedy.

Joe Kennedy III served four terms in the US House of Representatives, first elected in 2012.

Before attending Harvard Law School he served in the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic for two years before becoming a District Attorney in Cape Cod.

Tipped as a rising star of the Democratic Party when President Donald Trump delivered his first State of the Union address in 2018, the Democrats chose Congressman Kennedy to give the opposition response.

He also voted to impeach Donald Trump in 2019.

In 2020 he decided to stand down as a Congressman and challenged veteran Boston politician Ed Markey for the Democratic nomination for the Senate, but lost the primary.

He became the first Kennedy to lose an election in Massachusetts and has been without elected position since.

His appointment as Northern Ireland Special Envoy may be a chance to rebuild his career before seeking re-election at some future point, but he comes into the role at another time of political instability and stalemate at Stormont with power-sharing suspended.

Next year is the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement and it's known that US President Joe Biden would like to visit Ireland north and south to mark the occasion, but it's believed he won't do so if the Stormont institutions are not back in place.

Joe Kennedy's remit will be limited to economic plans for Northern Ireland and he will not have any role in political discussions around the restoration of power sharing or resolving the ongoing dispute over the Northern Ireland Protocol, which the DUP cites as its reason for withdrawing from power sharing.

The reality is that the issues are inextricably linked. Many of the criticisms by opponents of the protocol are business related, the checks on goods travelling from Great Britain into Northern Ireland.

The DUP and its supporters, many of whom will be unnerved by the appointment of a member of the Irish-American Kennedy clan, will watch carefully for what they would interpret as any "mission creep" in the form of any backing for those on the other side of the protocol argument.

On the other hand, Sinn Féin and the SDLP may hope that his Irish-Amercan credentials and family history will give them a sympathetic ear and increase US pressure on the British government to resolve the protocol issue with the EU.

Joe Kennedy is expected to make his first visit to Northern Ireland early next year.

He may want to talk economics, but much of the focus will be on what he says, or does not say, about the politics of the place.