Dan Rooney to step down Friday as ambassador to Ireland
December 13, 2012 5:15 pm

Dan Rooney will resign as U.S. ambassador to Ireland Friday after more than three years serving as President Barack Obama's top diplomat in Dublin.

The resignation, which has been expected for some time, will allow the 80-year-old Steelers chairman emeritus to return home to Pittsburgh with wife Patricia after serving as ambassador since July 2009. Mr. Rooney was a vocal supporter of Barack Obama during his 2008 presidential run, which led to his appointment, but he had been involved in Irish causes for decades, co-founding the American Ireland Fund with former H.J. Heinz Co. president Tony O'Reilly in 1976.

Mr. Rooney became the first U.S. ambassador to visit all 32 counties in Ireland, north and south, and spent much of his time in the country to boosting the Irish economy after its 2008 collapse. Other diplomatic issues included the thorny matter of undocumented Irish working in the United States; welcoming new immigrants into Ireland; addressing global security concerns; and meeting with U.S. military personnel as they stopped in Shannon in Western Ireland on their way home.