Former Ireland and Lions rugby player to touch down as the UK's special envoy to America
Boris Johnson has appointed a former Ireland and Lions rugby player as a special envoy to help lobby Joe Biden's administration over Northern Ireland.
Trevor Ringland will be the first Special Envoy to the United States and Northern Ireland, tasked with “promoting Northern Ireland’s interests across the US”.
The Northern Ireland Office (NIO) said that the new post would reflect the UK Government’s commitment to peace in the country.
It comes as the EU signalled that it is counting on Mr Biden to bring Mr Johnson and Brexit Britain to heel over the Northern Ireland Protocol at the G7.
Senior EU figures expect the US President to tell the Prime Minister that the Good Friday Agreement has to be protected at all costs during his visit to Britain on June 11.
They believe that Mr Biden supports the EU argument that the Protocol is an international treaty that helps keep the peace on the island of Ireland.
Ireland politicians have been lobbying influential figures in Washington over the ongoing row over the Brexit border.
That ultimately bore fruit in a warning from Mr Biden that the US would never strike a trade deal with the UK unless the invisible border on the island of Ireland was preserved.
Mr Ringland currently works as a solicitor but has represented Ireland 31 times internationally as a rugby player, as well as touring with the British and Irish Lions in 1983.
He has also received an MBE for his service to the community in Northern Ireland, where he is actively involved in PeacePlayers International - an organisation which promotes inter-religious unity in Belfast through sport.
Brandon Lewis, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, said: “I am delighted that Trevor has accepted my invitation to take up this position to represent the UK Government in Northern Ireland, working to support its best interests in the United States.
“This is an exciting new appointment and recognises Northern Ireland’s unique relationship with the United States and its people. I look forward to working with Trevor to harness all the opportunities that lie ahead.”
Mr Ringland said: “I am honoured to take up this role on behalf of the UK Government. I very much look forward to supporting the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in ensuring the UK Government’s policies on Northern Ireland are well represented to US audiences and playing my part in forging deeper political, social and economic ties between our two countries.”